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El Maghreb, Morocco
2005

One day, I've shown to my father some of my pictures : his mother's grave and the portrait of his sisters in Rabat. He simply answered : "I understand". I heard it as a proof of love. The pictures were taking him back to his country.

The migration made him keep a social link between his native country and abroad. Whereas my father refused to go back to Morocco, the family story made the son do it.
My job was to create the link again. Obviously I wanted to work on memory, places, feelings, complexity of the separation with the country, and the way everyone would live the emotional link with the family. I had to take over the simple note of an official story of migration to deal with the ghorba, isolation, loneliness of a country breaking down with its social imaginary, and put in context the remaining image of the Arabic man dreaming of leaving.

My work on Morocco is covered in both sides, and three round trips.
This work, a love declaration to Morocco, is a contemplation of my family who is the main character of this story. Images of my way to the native country (2001) is a slow evocation of the return, of souvenirs, and the reconciliation with the family. Meshing the souvenirs from here and there, the pictures show the foreign country deep inside of me. The grandmother is the mainstay, cousins of France are confronted to the cultural inheritance of the native country.
The "Ramadans" story (2004) allowed me to enlarge the question of immigration to those who stayed there, even my father's sisters, Fatima, Fouzia and Mina.
Round trips between the Ramadans nights and the visits to my family, the pictures sound like the human loneliness of a country my father doesn't want to visit anymore. Between the grave of my grandmother and the words of my tant concerning the fascinating love of a son abandonned by his reason, this trip shapes the dream of the West while throwing light on the poetry of being back.
B oua Salm (2005) Return of the father! has a spiritual dimension. The father is looking for his roots in a village of the South. The country isnt the place for love of souvenirs anymore.

My pictures dont fit in a human drama taken on the fly. It deals with the breakdown of the moroccan youth on one hand, and on another hand, weighs on contemporary stakes of migrations ; until underliying the tension of action, the moments when spaces cross, overlay and respond. The tragedy is somewhere else. This is the white Africa wounded by the protectorate fiction. The aim was to take pictures of Morocco to unframe France. Nore my identity neather Historylet me the choice : both stateless and nostalgic.

The reading of my family album again, the experience of the documents, the captions written at the back of the pictures, even the discovery of my fathers passport let me synthetize the temporalities of the different events of our life. My pictures follow the representations of our personal experience, it shows the reconstitution of a spiritual history, where the hero reappears in area of the image for long.
When my father writes el Maghreb, it means to him the native country . The word Al Maghrib al- Aqsa says : the far West, the actual meaning of suburb of Europe.

"Taking pictures of my father allowed me not to feel his absence anymore. The image of a father - who I compared with the prophet during thart journey - gives an absolute necessity to my generation not to live with doubts and shame anymore." Malik Nejmi


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