Hassan Hajjaj | My Rock Stars Experimental
After his Kesh Angels series, Hassan Hajjaj is back with a new project called My Rock Stars Experimental. The photographer uses the same colorful dazzling style to portray nine international musicians.
Hajjaj has selected an eclectic group of musicians: two British-Jamaican Muslim women known as “Poetic Pilgrimage,” Jose James is a singer from New York, the Nigerian singer-songwriter who calls herself “The Venus Bushfires,” and the London-based Moroccan musician Simo Lagnawi, a renowned performer of Gnawa, traditional African-Islamic spiritual songs and rhythms. There’s also the Venezuelan singer Luzmira Zerpa who performs the merengue, “El dia que yo me case” (“The day I get married”).
All my subjects were people around me who I admire. Most of them are friends, or if not, they’re friends of friends; it kind of happened naturally. I was shooting stills for My Rock Stars, and I got to the point with a lot of them where I thought: how can I show these people why they’re rock stars?
Once I recognized this, I started to make a list of people around me that do this kind of thing and it happened from there. A lot of the people I’ve filmed are people from different parts of the world who either live in London or are passing through London or just living in London for a period of time, so it was set up documenting them in that period of time.
The performers posed in a spaces covered by patterns Hajjaj chosed wearing clothes of his own design in this three-channel video installation. The video is one of the works of contemporary Middle Eastern art of Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).
Hassan Hajjaj, born in 1961 in Larache, Morocco, moved to London in 1975, and now divides his time between London and Marrakesh. Best known as a photographer, he also employs video. His work depicts a globalized society that pushes and blurs the boundaries of cultural identity—whether African, Arab, or Western.
Hajjaj is Heavily influence by the club, hip-hop, and reggae scenes of London as well as by his North African heritage, He’s a self-taught and thoroughly versatile artist whose work includes portraiture, installation, performance, fashion, and interior design, including furniture made from recycled utilitarian objects from North Africa, such as upturned Coca-Cola crates as stools and aluminum cans turned into lamps.
Turning to photography in the late 80s, Hajjaj is a master portraitist, taking studio portraits of friends, musicians, and artists, as well as strangers from the streets of Marrakech, often wearing clothes designed by the artist. These colorful and engaging portraits combine the visual vocabulary of contemporary fashion photography and pop art, as well as the studio photography of African artist Malick Sidibe, in an intelligent commentary on the influences of tradition in the interpretations of high and low branding and the effects of global capitalism.
In 2009, Hajjaj was shortlisted for Victoria & Albert Museum’s Jameel Prize for Islamic Art. His group exhibitions have been held at The Marrakesh Art Biennale; Edge of Arabia, London; Photoqua, Paris; and Re-orientations at Rose Issa Projects, among others. His work is in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University, Durham, NC; the Newark Museum, New Jersey; Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; the Farjam Collection, Dubai; Institut des Cultures d’Islam, Paris; Kamel Lazaar Foundation, Tunisia; Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, VA, and more. The artist lives and works between London, UK and Marrakech, Morocco.
You can read his interview on the lacma website here: unframed.lacma.org