Photography Mous Lamrabat’s multicultural surrealism

Mous Lamrabat’s multicultural surrealism

Giorgia Massari
Mous Lamrabat |

The surreal photographs of Mous Lamrabat (1984) are striking for their bright, saturated colors, sharp color contrasts and compositional harmony, but, having overcome the initial strong impact, what remains in the audience’s heart is the message of hope that the Belgian-Moroccan photographer conveys.
Lamrabat was born in Morocco and grew up in Belgium, moving from the African to the European continent, thus burdening himself with two strongly distant cultural identities. His personal history is reflected in his photographs in which an unusual meeting of cultures takes place, achieved by juxtaposing typical Western elements with as many African ones or, more generally, by relating elements of different cultures. Mous Lamrabat carefully chooses symbols that can be universally recognized in order to create a fluid visual narrative that can be understood by all.

An emblematic example is the shot that pays homage to René Magritte’s “The Lovers,” in which Lamrabat takes the same composition but replaces the subjects with two Arab women whose faces are completely covered by their colorful veils. Equally effective is the choice to exploit Western logomania and place it in dialogue with African men and women, an example being the photograph in which an African woman wears an earring with the McDonald’s logo. These unusual juxtapositions make Mous Lamrabat’s photographs surreal and utopian, emphasizing on the one hand the need to overcome cultural differences and on the other hand the difficulties of this encounter. Lamrabat’s hope and positivity promote a message of peace and unity through a deconstruction of the widespread concept of “normality.” In a subtle and simple way, Mous Lamrabat addresses issues of racism, religion, and women’s rights.

The message of peace conveyed by Mous Lamrabat is also strong and powerful in the shots he takes for fashion houses, for which he works regularly. This role as a “fashion photographer” allows the photographer to be able to spread his idea of multiculturalism more widely and also to include it within the global campaigns of major brands. For example, he recently produced the campaign for Etnia Barcelona‘s new eyewear collection, in which he extols Moroccan culture. The models wear traditional clothes and are placed against a magical background: that of the African desert. The new collection “Zebra. Heritage” allows the photographer to be inspired by his land precisely because the collection itself is a love letter to Africa, its vibrant colors and “animal print” textures. The result of the campaign are “powerful images that celebrate the art of tradition through snapshots that recreate Mous’ fantasy world.”

Courtesy by Mous Lamrabat and Loft Art Gallery

Written by Giorgia Massari
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