Courtesy of Hassan Hajjaj, Taymour Grahne Gallery
Seeing his native Morocco used as a backdrop in glossy, high-fashion photo spreads—its own people absent—first frustrated Moroccan-born, UK-based artist, stylist and designer Hassan Hajjaj. Then it inspired him. Presenting a larger picture of local Moroccan culture, his stunning portraits of Marrakech’s lesser-known but no-less prominent contemporary biker culture are on view in the exhibit “’Kesh Angels” at New York’s Taymour Grahne Gallery (through March 7).
Throughout the show Hajjaj calls into question stereotypes of Arab women, capturing his fashionable female friends in brightly colored djellabas (robes) and patterned veils smiling confidently from atop their motorcycles. The clothing, which Hajjaj designed, mixes traditional prints with references to brands like Nike, Louis Vuitton and Gucci, recontextualizing familiar Western products within the structure of local custom—namely, traditional Muslim dress. The photographs’ handmade frames are fitted with found objects (colorful chicken-stock boxes, soda cans, Legos), further toying with the influence of branding and the relationships between East and West, old and new.
“In this work I want to show something particular to Marrakech,” Hajjaj says, “and to show that even though we have different cultures and religions, we share a lot in common as people.” 157 Hudson St.; 212-240-9442; taymourgrahne.com.