Mehdy Mariouch is one of the 25 photographers shortlisted for the 2020 CAP Prize for Contemporary African Photography.
Each of us remembers those photographers who were almost smiling, where our parents took us to immortalize a celebration, an event, or simply to give us a portrait for an administrative procedure.
In these studios, often tiny, the photographer’s imagination carried us to the scenery of our desires. We reinvented so many sunsets, flower gardens, arcades, landscapes, and beaches…
We could go from one universe to another, cross the real boundaries through a process of false pretenses.
The medium is always the same. Photography transcends geographies, reinvents them. Tangier, Tetouan, Dakhla, Chaouen, or Casablanca: cities traveled through their small photo studios. One enters on the tiptoes to pick images of the past and those always present of an obsolete decor, decaying colors but witnessing an escape attempt. These fantasized worlds are becoming as much reality for the eye of the photographer as I am.
This is a world of extremes where everything becomes possible with one click. These are all borders crossed. Those agreed upon, those materials that dematerialize through the eyes. Through their pictures, these photographers I met seem to have decided to stop the time. They protect their labs like foxes defending their burrows. They maintain a classical working mode and a working frame that’s frozen, almost immutable. Either because they want it that way, or by lack of means.
These photographs, where memory is safeguarded and protected, are superabundant cocoons of inner lives unfortunately forgotten from others.
The idea of this project is to look at each photographer, in his studio, where he photographed thousands of people.
An out-of-field, out-of-time frame that adopts a seemingly disordered style, close to the kitsch; flashes, back edges, archives, and packed boxes… in the midst of all this, the photographer will, in turn, be photographed. Honoring these photographers is a tribute to photography. And it is also my vision to develop a work of memory. Because without it, our present and our future would be meaningless.