Which of these phrases doesn’t go with the others: veiled women, working moms, or biker divas?
If you picked the third, one look at ‘Kesh Angels shows that the choice is false: the women it portrays are all of the above. Now on display at Taymour Grahne Gallery in New York, the latest installation by Moroccan artist Hassan Hajjaj is a tribute to the “strength, swagger, and freedom” of Marrakesh’s female bikers.
These angels, though, are down to earth. They’re not supermodels, they’re Hajjaj’s friends, and the bikes they pose on are mostly their own. But in their own way they are superwomen: they speak four or five languages, work eight or ten hour days, and commute–like nearly everybody–on motorbikes.
Yes, these women are veiled—in sassy polka dots and witty prints, including knock-off Louis Vuitton—plus smug Lolita-style sunglasses. Hajjaj fashioned the outfits himself, and framed the portrait in brightly painted tire treads and rows of homely cans and tins, as a tongue-in-cheek celebration of locality in a global mix.
The hybrid fusion is a signature of Hajjaj’s work, but it’s also a playful rebuttal to a fashion shoot he once attended in which everything was imported from the west, and Morocco itself “was simply the backdrop”, he recalls. So in this piece, he says, “I want to show something particular to Marrakesh, and that even though we have different cultures and religions, we share a lot in common as people.”
For more info – ‘Kesh Angels page