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“The first family portrait was shot in January 2000, in a photography studio in one of Casablanca’s suburbs on the road to El-Jadida. Decorated with pink velvet, golden wood, red curtains and a floral arabesque carpet, the studio has things like dusty plastic flowers and coloUrful ties hanging on the walls. At the very back are posters, selected according to each client’s preference.
This photography studio is the only public place in the area displaying photographs. Hanging on the walls and piled up on counters and windows are images, which come in black and white, sepia or color; some small and some big, some engraved or painted, some framed in silver, gold or wood. Here, the setting as well as the scenography changes depending on the circumstances: seasons, occasions, reasons for celebration. The continuous comings and goings, faces briefly meeting each other in the studio.
For me, this “whole” is more interesting than photography itself. It does not matter who the photographer is, it does not matter if he or she uses Russian out-of-date films from the black market, or if portraits from the souks drown in the midday sun. And, no portrait can exist on its own: the images are always part of a series and particular contexts. Each set of photographs are echoing the others, juxtaposed with – different but sometimes tragically similar – human stories like beggars in the souks or South African families who still bear the burden of apartheid.”
Moroccan visual artist Hassan Darsi was born in 1961 in Casablanca. After studying visual art in Belgium, he returned to Morocco in 1989. His work is strongly influenced by everyday life, and his projects always deal with social aspects of things around him. This series, entitled ‘Portraits de famille’, portraits families in front of a kitschy gold-curtained backdrop.