We asked Hull-based photographer, Karim Skalli, to elaborate on his current exhibition at Artlink, Third Space. Here’s what he had to say:
“The project, Third Space, that is currently exhibiting at Artlink is one that has been really important to me as a photographer. The project turns the camera onto myself and looks at my experiences being brought up in a mixed heritage family. Growing up with an English mother and Moroccan father I always found it difficult to pinpoint where I was from or where I belonged. I didn’t feel fully British because of my appearance and name but then I didn’t feel fully Moroccan due to not speaking the language or living there. For a long time I struggled to understand my own identity and had a yearning to be accepted. I started this project as I wanted to understand my position between the two cultures and really explore the juxtaposition, politics and conflicts between my parents cultures, looking into space, place and people that were formative of my identity.
In terms of image taking, it was intuitive. None of the images used for the project were planned or set up, everything was a moment in my life, a document of the things around me. I shot on medium format to slow everything down, make me really look and focus on what was around me and understand how it would develop the project. When photographing at home, in England, I photographed my family home mostly, a place that is filled with Moroccan rugs, tables, frames, constant reminders of our heritage. I also photographed the places and people that had influenced my identity growing up in Hull. Morocco was slightly different, every visit felt like a holiday so I would automatically photograph through a tourist/western gaze, looking at the obvious shots that a tourist visiting for the first time would but for this project, I knew it was important to photograph what Morocco was to me and how it was formative of my identity, similarly to how I photographed England, this meant I was photographing the quieter moments, moments with my family or how I interacted with the culture and light. I think the image that sums up the project perfectly is my Mum sunbathing on the roof in Morocco with aerials and mountains in the distance, England and Morocco in one image.
Third Space has allowed me to find a voice and direction in photography, I always struggled to decide what it was I wanted to photograph or what theme I wanted to pursue but this cemented the fact that identity is what I am interested in. Following on from Third Space I have been working on a new project which explores dual heritage identities in Britain and how it is the fastest growing ethnicity in Britain today. I have began to photograph and interview the subjects involved about how they felt growing up with two different cultures and ideologies and how that influences their identity.
For Third Space and my on going project, I was particularly inspired by photographers such as Larry Sultan and Diana Markosian who also look at their relationships with family and identity. I was also heavily inspired by writers such as Stuart Hall and Edward Said and my University tutor at the time, James Cant and their outlook on the subject and what it means to us. I’m constantly inspired by different things, whether thats photography, art, music, film or the people around me, it all helps and influences my practise. ”
Third Space is on show at Artlink until 8th October 2019.