Friday, 9 August 2013

Malika Sqalli

CoffinBay - at 34.02 - Self portrait with Mosaic, Malika Sqalli
Portfolio: Latitude 34 Project

"I surrendered the luxury of having a home to explore the concept of home, by going to the other side of the world to find the connection and the sense of belonging inherent to our culture and identity"

Malika Sqalli is a multicultural and multilingual artist who uses photography as a medium which shows “reality” in new ways, or, as the great critic John Berger put it, her images are a way of “catching the frame between the frame.” Her photos (she also uses mixed media and animation) are a way of asking questions about the world and inspiring people with visual answers. Her photos are at once a form of international communication, full of anthropological, geographic, and human elements that become part of a visual education.

Born in Morocco, Sqalli moved to France in her teens and attended the Ecole de Beaux Arts in Montpelier. She then spent several years living in London, and since 2010 she has divided her time between London, Rabat, Los Angeles, and the various places she has journeyed to along Latitude 34, both North and South, in order to complete her current project. Malika has shown her work on four continents -- in North America (Atlanta), in Europe (France, Austria and the UK), Africa (Morocco ), and East Asia (Korea). At several shows, her work has been singled out for awards or honourable mentions.

Latitude 34, Malika Sqalli’s current undertaking, is a very smart conceptual art project that grew out of a personal moment of recognition. In 2010, when she first visited Los Angeles, Malika found that for all the cultural differences between her home town, Rabat, Morocco, and L.A, there were also great commonalities. Seeking to find out why, she learned that both places sit astride the 34 parallel North. Seized by the unlikelihood, even romance of the idea, she decided to explore and photograph the human sites and sights along that imaginary demarcation line around the globe in order to see and share what she could learn about the similarities and differences in human cultures. For Malika this is not just a project about the beauty of the places along the parallels, but an exploration undertaken with a camera and fueled by her “child’s eye” view of the world, a view which works against parochialism and in favour of cultural globalisation.

Stunning are the parallels between disparate locations, parallels which the artist occasionally emphasises by including within a frame two or three images from different countries which work to underline similarities and / or differences in how we view and utilise the environment – the desert in Morocco and California, the seaside in Japan, China, and California; mountains in Morocco, China, Japan. Sometimes Malika shows up herself as a small personal note within the larger images derived from her far flung travels. She addresses addresses that connections and disconnections: what links us, relates to us and also what is far away, different and mysterious and investigate and question the notion of home, culture identity and the notion of non place. She asks herself, "is home a physical place? in the emotions? the logical mind? about geography history and ancestry?

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