Foam Fotomuseum Amsterdam and Pakhuis de Zwijger team up again for three ‘specials’ in the Fotokroniek series in which we make the connection between an artist who exhibits at Foam and two other guests based on a common theme. For this last edition we will close on a high note by welcoming Belgian-Moroccan photographer Mous Lamrabat who currently has a big solo at Foam, Blessings from Mousganistan. Through a healthy dose of humor and beauty, Mous approaches his bi-cultural identity and conveys a message of love in a polarising society.
Wishing to explore how other creators like Lamrabat are approaching and reinterpreting Moroccan heritage today we welcome Dutch-Moroccan designer Mina Abouzahra and artist and writer Kenza Mala Badi. Moderator Dymphie Braun will talk with Mous, Mina and Mala Badi about their work and their take on the worlds they disclose.
Mina Abouzahra (1977) is a designer and furniture maker specialized in Moroccan crafts. She studied at the ‘Hout- en Meubileringscollege’ in Amsterdam. During her last year of study, she worked in Morocco and through this experience a world of craftsmanship, colors and tradition opened up to her. Once back in Amsterdam in 2013, Abouzahra opened her design studio. Since then, she regularly travels back to Morocco and works with local weavers and designers to gain new insights and sharpen her knowledge of design. The experience of growing up in two worlds – the Netherlands and Morocco – has become both a source of inspiration and a work method. A clear imprint that is seen in her approach to interior and product design focused on infusing local heritage with modern narratives.
Abouzahra’s approach is thus a marriage of cultures, raw materials and dynamic colors, that combine modern and traditional aesthetics. This expertise, as well as her passion for food, make her a much sought-after curator collaborator for international exhibitions such as GLUE festival and Contemporary African Art Fair.
Her work is on display at the moment as part of the exhibition The Other Story at the Cobra Museum.
Kenza Mala Badi
Kenza Mala Badi (She – Her), born in 1992, in Casablanca, Morocco currently lives, works, and studies in Amsterdam. Their performances and installations are a manifestation of their position on violence, collective trauma, and separation and the possibilities of collective healing and imagining liberation. ancestrality and intersectionality are central to their work and their artistic practice.
Mous Lamrabat was born in 1983 in a small Amazigh village in northern Morocco, before his family moved to Sint-Niklaas in Belgium. He studied interior design at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent, but started to focus on photography after graduating. Combining the rich palette of his cultural identity – Muslim, Arab, European, Amazigh – with pop culture references (Nike logos and Spongebob appear regularly) he has created a world he calls “Mousganistan“. Although his work touches on serious themes, including religion, racism, women’s rights and cultural identity, he manages to approach these in a very light-hearted way. Through a healthy dose of humor and appealing aesthetics, he manages to reach a large audience and thereby also build bridges in a polarizing society.
Mous Lamrabat is very much at home in the world of fashion photography, but he also incorporates well-known logos into his images, while not actually working on commission. He is concerned with how different subcultures associate with brands and symbols from consumer culture and how people shape their identity in this way: the well-known yellow M of MacDonalds can suddenly stand for the M of Muslim. It is by investigating his own bi-cultural identity that Mous Lamrabat seamlessly merges apparently opposite worlds in a very recognizable way.
In his first large-scale museum solo exhibition at Foam – exhibition with Mous Lamrabat –, Lamrabat presents a colorful and eclectic visual experience. Incorporating and fusing the images with the exhibition space, the photographer creates a space where visitors step into a fascinating utopia of images. Lamrabat’s idea is to create immersive environments where everyone’s curiosity can be sparked, stimulating viewers to look differently at the images he has transformed into installations.
Furthermore, Lamrabat has not only claimed the space in the museum, but has also gone beyond its doors. Wishing to strengthen its interaction with the people of Amsterdam, part of his work is currently being exhibited in MAQAM. MAQAM is a shared creative space run by the Amsterdam Andalusian Orchestra, Meervaart and Foam, located in the heart of the Kolenkitbuurt.