Hello Mafters, Today we’re cyber traveling and taking you with us on a journey to Morocco, through the artworks and words of a Moroccan artist and storyteller that uses photography to tell stories about the Moroccan streets and lifestyle and show the country from original and unique angles that we might’ve not seen before.
We’re shining a bright light on one of the most visionary photographers in the MENA region: The Moroccan artist Jinane Ennasri.
Through this interview, we got to know the woman behind the stunning images that have graced my Instagram feed one day which drove me to cyberstalk her, only to get to know a 25-year-old Photographer that’s originally from Taza, Morocco, who spends her time capturing simple beautiful moments of life that go uncared for all whilst managing to climb up the success ladder she drew out for her artistic path all by instating her homeland as her forever inspiration.
Furthermore, this interview actually is one of those "meant to be" rare moments we get to enjoy in life because turns out the day I cyber stalked her is the exact day I got her confirmation for the interview 2 years later.
And in the name of everything having meaning, it was only fitting to hold out this interview on one of the most special days of the year: WOMEN’S DAY!
I was already having a good day and a 25-minute conversation (that felt like I was catching up with an old friend ) just gave me that extra glow for the rest of the day.
It turns out, Jinane Ennasri was born in Morroco but raised in New York City which allowed her to set up New York City as her first muse, back when she was 17 and just got her 1st camera.
She wasn’t always that interested in photography, it was only a hobby for her back then and as we went on talking about our childhood dreams and hopes, she actually informed me “: I actually wanted to become a pilot my entire life. I loved aviation and I really wanted to go to flight school.”
Later, I came to find out that like many of our childhood dreams and ambitions that did not come to happen, she graduated instead from Pace University in Lower Manhattan where she pursued a degree in Finance & Economics.
However, like any passionate creative, the 9-5 life wasn’t enough for her or how can I say, it wasn’t quite sufficient.
She always felt like something was missing, which got her asking herself “: I wanted to go to flight school but then asked myself do I really wanna spend the rest of my life in the air? And then I asked myself again, how can I fly constantly but still enjoy myself? I said photography, I wanted to document the world.”
And from there the bigger journey has started. It was a journey of self-discovery that got her trading her Sony X100 for an analog camera with one fixed lens that her mom got her which opened her eyes to the beauty of her hometown Morocco “: I think Morocco is really what inspired the artist in me. To be able to go back to a country like Morocco and use that as my playground to create and connect, it’s really unfamiliar for other people but very familiar to me.”
Being back in Morocco every summer is what allowed her to reintroduce the notion of beauty and capture-worthy moments.
This photographer lives for the simple moments, the ones that go unnoticed, the ones that if you take a couple of minutes to contemplate you’ll drown in the cherishable feeling of how life can be so plain.
Further down in our conversation I got to discover that she takes those moments as conversation starters which landed me the perfect opening for my question.
What are you trying to convey from your art? Is there a certain reality you want to highlight within your photographs?
To which she answered humbly “: I think the message varies, but I think the message I’m trying to send is that beauty can be in the ordinary, beauty can be in the everyday, beauty is how you wake up, how you dress up, where you decide to go, the path you take, the car driver who gets you to destination, it’s just that every day should be celebrated as beautiful.”
And from there we moved to another important point that should be more highlighted in photographer interviews, that is Photography Consent.
I was very pleased to hear that for her, it was also something that she made sure to have and especially recently after COVID “: In my mind, there is no room for me to export anyone and I didn’t want them to think that I took advantage of that, because I’m strongly against that.”
Coming down to the juicy topics we finally reached the photobooks’ questionnaire section where I got to ask her about her work where she indulged me with a detailed answer by talking about both her photo books (“Perspective”, which consists of 60 photographs of subjects in France, Morocco and the UAE in 2017 and “Live from Morocco” 2021, which was a project meant as a contribution to the Northern region of Morocco who has been around for at least 4000 years.)
“The first one, I would say is to convey who I am and who I thought I was, I wanted to show people that I can capture the beauty in every day as I mentioned, I wanted people to see the places I have been in.
And then, Life in Morocco is another presentation of me and who I am and what I see every day. There was no deadline, there was no objective, it was just 3 weeks in Morocco by myself capturing local Morrocco the way I wanted it.”
During our enlightening interview, I also came to gather that Jinane understands how the power of photography can speak about different issues related to the MENA region, which implicated my next question :
Do you think an Arab Photographer should have the responsibility of correcting the false idea of the monolithic Arab experience through his images?
“: For some, I think it’s a high duty, I think when I think of Arab photographers that emerge from Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia… A lot of them incorporate who they are and where they come from, even if they decide to live abroad, it makes up a significant amount of who they are.”
And yes you can agree that for the past couple of years she has been trying to define the beauty of her home and culture alongside an army of other Moroccan Photographers and broadcast that into the world.
Finally coming up to the end of the interview, I remembered a quote that was fitting to the occasion: “A picture has to have the power of memorability, something that grabs you quickly”
That reminded me of the book cover of her “Live from Morocco” photo book which she admitted was her most prized possession.
We're definitely staying tuned to Jinane Ennasri's upcoming projects while taking on new Campaign shoots and holding out more international exhibitions.