Travelling around the South of Morocco, British photographer Lucy Ridgard took portraits of teenage boys and young men alongside landscapes of the environments she encountered. The photos present these young males in a land that can be beautiful and dreamlike, yet dusty and harsh. Placing the composed portrait alongside the visual elements of a city, she explores the urban landscape and notions of ‘modernisation’ with the story of the boys themselves and their oft-expressed desire to come to Europe
Shot on medium format film the images feel quiet and still: the subjects are posed against backdrops chosen for their colours, tones and textures. A slow shooting style also creates a chance to interact with the subjects and to uncover something about them, however brief.
The photos lack a female presence as far less teenage and adolescent girls were seen than boys. “The girls I saw didn’t appear to hang about in groups on the streets like the boys or seem so westernised, particularly in their dress sense” If boys have a fair amount of freedom in these parts of the country, adolescence girls, it seems, are kept closer to home and supervised more. “Many of the boys wear tracksuits, trainers and branded clothes a symbol of the global language of sportswear, the future represented by a tracksuit”.
The male youth of Marrakech, Marseille & Manchester can be found wearing the same Adidas tracksuit or Nike trainers, emblems of worldwide fashion democracy and progress. Synthetic fabrics and sportswear are indicative of a modernising country and it seems this is a country in transition, albeit one caught between traditional religious thinking and westernisation.
A nation in flux, Morocco is still the most liberal of all the African countries – with women being granted the right to divorce and inherit plus a raising of the legal age of marriage – but it can still be deeply conservative, with most of its modernist ideas being maintained by the ruling elite.
These are the tensions that shape the new voices of today’s male Moroccan youth observed in these photos.
About the author:
Lucy Ridgard was born in 1974 she lives and works in London as a photographer. She is a graduate of London Guildhall University where she studied photography and communications.
After graduating she worked as a set designer on fashion shoots then moved on to assist fashion photographers for 7 years. Now working as a photographer she has been published in The Financial Times magazine, The Guardian weekend magazine, Stella magazine, Mono online, dazed digital, Another online, Vice online, Something About magazine, Arena magazine, Rodeo magazine, Used magazine and Surface magazine. In 2015 she won the Renaissance photography prize for the single image category.