Exhibitions and fairs,  Interviews

Photo Doc. Close-up: Fethi Sahraoui

The countdown to Photo Doc. Paris 2019 is on! At this year’s fair, Singulart will be presenting three, outstanding photographers from our online gallery: Fethi Sahraoui, Isabel Corthier and Baudouin Mouanda. To celebrate, we sat down with each of these talented artists to learn more about their artistic practice and the works they will be presenting at Photo Doc. 2019.

In this installment of ‘Photo Doc. Close-up’ we get to know Algerian photographer Fethi Sahraoui. Sahraoui’s photography is primarily focused on depicting ordinary life in the Saharawi camps on the south-western border of Algeria. A member of the photography society Algerian Collective 220, Fethi Sahraoui exhibits frequently in his home country. He was also the first winner of the “Young Talent” prize at La Quatrième Image festival in Paris. Read Fathi’s full interview to learn about his latest projects and some of the core messages that drive his work.

To see all the amazing work that will be presented at the fair, check out the official Photo Doc. Paris collection on Singulart.com.

Hello, Fethi! Could you tell us a bit about the series you’ll be presenting at ‘Photo Doc. Paris?’

Basically, I’ll be showing two different projects during PhotoDoc, though strangely they can be seen as related to each other because I believe that my work is very linked to my environment.

‘The Cult of Souls’ is a project about rural celebrations in different parts of Algeria and how they started as a religious event to celebrate the lives of Muslim saints. Over time, these events have also become a simple means of amusement. As a child, I grew up visiting these celebrations with my family members. I remember the festive atmosphere, the sounds of the music, and the dancing. When I started photography, these festivals were one of the first subjects that I documented. After many years of attending, I photographed a sort of concrete idea – the rural celebrations became my imaginary circus, my alternative world.

My other series, ‘B as Bouchentouf’ is a documentary project about my cousin Bouchentouf who is suffering from a mental disorder, exploring his struggle to find a place in a society that rejects him. Bouchntouf comes from a family of farmers, so he often attends those rural celebrations; that is how the two projects are connected.

Fethi Sahraoui, ‘An old man who had fainted after entering a transe,’ 2017, Analogue on Paper, 40x40cm.
Fethi Sahraoui, ‘A Guesha gang member and a visitor performing a dance,’ 2017, Analogue on Paper, 40x40cm.

What does photography mean to you? What led you to a career in it?

Starting photography was not an accident for me, but it was also not really planned. There was just this urge to do something with my life and photography sounded like the perfect choice. Now it has become my whole way of life.

Fethi Sahraoui, ‘A man covering his face with his straw hat from a passing sandstorm,’ 2017, Analogue on Paper, 40x40cm.

Describe the core of your approach or aesthetic.

With my long-term photography projects I’m raising questions about the environment I live in. Conversations in daily life can be starting points of any project I undertake, but they also each require a lot of time and dedication.

You can see more of Fethi Sahraoui’s work at the Singulart booth at Photo Doc. Paris, May 10-12, 2019. Photo Doc. is held at the Halle des Blancs Manteaux, 48 rue Vieille du Temple in Paris’ 4th arrondissement. You can also check out his dedicated artist’s page.

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