press release

The Third Line presents a new body of work by acclaimed photographer Hassan Hajjaj. My Rock Stars: Volume 1 pays homage to traditional African portraiture, while celebrating present-day pop stars, unsung artists and personal inspirations in Hajjaj's life.

With the help of a pop-up studio that he would erect on the streets of Morocco, London, Paris and Kuwait, Hassan Hajjaj's series, now 13 years in the making, will be shown for the first time at The Third Line. The series is simultaneously a haut-couture street experiment and a revival of African photography from the 1960s and 70s. Hajjaj's subjects range from musicians, fashion designers, dancers to singers, capoeira masters, and boxers; all of whom are immortalized in a fleeting moment in time, sealing their muse-like qualities forever.

Christopher Spring, curator of the North, East and South Africa at The British Museum explains "the key word in the title is 'My' because these are not all global superstars by any means, except in Hassan's eyes, of course. He is the alchemist who transforms them, on one level, by the simple addition of his signature sunglasses, socks, hats or suits made of flour sacks. On a deeper level the transformation is through the lens of Hassan's camera, for these images also represent a tribute to the great studio masters of photography in Africa—Keïta, Sidibé and particularly Samuel Fosso."

Much like Hajjaj's personal exploration, the photographic series, is an ongoing examination of belonging in an increasingly globalized society where boundaries of cultural identity—most notably African, Arabic and Western—are constantly being pushed. Using traditional mats and fabrics as well as found objects that he sources in local markets of his hometown Marrakech, Hajjaj bridges the gap between past and present and various cultures, creating pieces that seamlessly merge folkloric elements into Western contemporary art.

Hassan Hajjaj
My Rock Stars: Volume 1