Malik Nejmi
La Chambre Marocaine

La Chambre Marocaine series is a means to reconnect personally to his connection to family history and objectively assess the process of reconnection. By creating this work in the Villa Medici in Rome, the neutral space—neither France nor Morocco—allowed the artist to distance himself with his history in the examination process. The series looks at Morocco through the eyes of his children and object belonging to his grandmother: a scarf, a cushion and a book in Arabic. The photographs are taken without digital editing in an attempt to return to documentation over artifice—to affirm the time of creation over timelessness. In presenting the photographs as a diptych, the artist questions the caesura, the assembly, the blessing. The transmission and understanding of the objects are not paralleled in both children—their experiences are unique and personal to the Moroccan objects. Referencing the photographic studios of the Arab world, Orientalism, and the studio of the Japanese photographer of the ninetieth century, Kusakabe Kimbei, Nejmi surpasses the schizophrenia of the search for identity. In defining the studio as a space of invention, the white and empty backdrop of the photographs eliminates distraction and allows for a reflection on fragility and the innocence of children. The negotiation of a transcultural and trans-generational relationship with the past, present and possible future lies at the heart of La Chambre Marocaine.

The practice of the French-Moroccan artist Malik Nejmi (b. 1975, France) develops principally around his relationship with his heritage to question the experience of displacement. Involving images and references to his family, and in particular the emigration of his father in 1971 and his return to the country, Nejmi looks to family portraiture, landscapes, and imagined spaces to examine the poetics of identity. In his earlier works, the artist showed the presence of a mutilated corpse resulting his cousins forbidding him to return to the family home in Rabat, the house of his grandmother. Najmi’s oeuvre studies how his existence within a double culture has returned against him and made him rethink today’s notions of exile, migration and placehood.