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LE BAL : Harry Gruyaert : Morocco by Brice Matthieussent


Brice Matthieussent : In your images of Morocco, there are a lot of people moving, few sedentary people. Travelers, walkers, passengers, the man in the red fez in the street, the woman with the bundle of wood, the one who seems to be dancing as she tumbles down her stairs in the blue city, the man alone among the red walls, the little girl who has her hand over her eyes in front of the old woman bent double who nevertheless walks, the festival and the market of the great Moussem of Imilchil and the travelers in the truck.

 Harry Gruyaert : I also photographed the end of the mass deportation of Moroccans organized by Hassan II in 1976 to Western Sahara to convince the UN envoys that this region did indeed belong to Morocco. He moved thousands of people to show that these people lived or rather camped there. I arrived just as they were gathering their things to go home after this masquerade. They were putting away their things before bringing them back to the other side of the border, where they came from, it was a real chaos and I made these somewhat strange, disturbing images.

B.M. : This whole thing is very political. 

H.G. : Me, I just wanted to find people in the desert. The political side of their presence there interested me less than the absurdity of their forced displacement. And then, apart from this desert, in Morocco there are few entirely desert regions.

B.M. : All the same, these are people forcibly displaced by the king to impress the UN envoys… I find these images very powerful from a political point of view, precisely because of their tragic nature, this vision of a cataclysm which seems to have destroyed everything around these people.

H.G. : We drove very fast to arrive on time and finally we arrived late, but this delay allowed me to take these images, which I would not have made if I had arrived on time.

B.M. : Once again, the setback, the setback turns into luck, a happy coincidence.


Excerpt from the interview book Partances, Harry Gruyaert by Brice Matthieussent to be published by Editions André Frère in August 2023.

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