Monochromatic tan labyrinths strewn with stalls, sellers, and beggers clutter the neighbourhoods of Morocco's Marrakesh region. Unending strings of brazen young men quiz "where you from?" from across the way, charming tourists into buying something from a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend. Mopeds buzz past brimming crowds on even the narrowist of streets and no ones bats an eye. The stench of rotten death slowly supplants engine fumes and cigarette smoke, as stores lined with crate-stuffed chickens mark the onset of local food markets. A lucky turn away down a narrow avenue breaks into immediate relief, where calm, deserted paths dotted with smiling children disturbs the cataclysmic dissonance that envelopes every moment.
Essaouira, a coastal town in Marrakesh Region
An overload of misogynistic jokes, homophobia, and manly back pats, disabled beggers being ignored and injured street animals being kicked away, ultimately underscores a hyper-masculine and ostensibly unempathetic culture that directly challenges my own views. Yet, I cannot deny the safe, welcoming, friendly attitudes I felt from strangers, leaving me totally conflicted and overstimulated. Am I allowed to enjoy these warm moments? As a man with a visually Arab appearance coming from a Western upbringing, how biased is my experience? Would I be complicit by not calling out what I percieve as discrimination, or would I be rude to combat social norms that I have little understanding of? I think to how these same inequalities are handled in the UK. Homelessness, income inequality, animal cruelty, sexism, and homophobia, still unquestionably persist, but almost always now happen behind closed doors. Maybe I am too quick to contrast.
You could drown in all the questions and contradictions that Marrakesh poses. However, the incongruity of behaviour with the times, and the philosophical and sometimes literal battle of anachronisms and conflicting ideas that is subsequently presented, is undeniably fascinating. In the end, my camera offers me reprieve from internal strife as I slip into an observer, a documenter, neither here nor there, simply watching and endulging without judgement or introspection∎