BiographyLamia Naji was born in 1966, Casablanca (Morocco). She lives and works between Casablanca and Madrid. Scholarships and grants make it possible for her to travel to Italy, to the Netherlands, to France and to Spain, where successively in 1998 and 1999 she is an artist in residence at Casa de Velàzquez in Madrid. She has been exhibiting widely in Morocco and Europe and her work has been presented by Galerie El Marsa in various art fairs in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Miami and at Paris Photo 2009 at the Carrousel du Louvre. She took part in various museum exhibitions including the Nederland’s Foto Instituut, the Musseum Voor Volkenkunde in Rotterdam, the Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 1996, the MACBA - Contemporary Art Museum of Barcelona in 2002 and The Stenersen Museum in Oslo in 2007. She participated in the touring exhibition “Snap Judgements: New Positions in Contemporary African Photography” which took place at the International Center of Photography New York in 2006, at the National Gallery of Canada, at the Museo Tamayo in Mexico City in 2007 and at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in 2008. In addition, her work has been part of many biennales and festivals such as the 4th African Photography Meetings in Bamako in 2004, the Athens Photo Festival in 2008 and Photoquai, the 2nd biennale of the museum du quai Branly in Paris in 2009.“I Love Cats” by Naji is a declaration of love to the inhabitants of Madrid; Madrilenians bear the nickname gatos, Spanish for cat, because of their prodigal nightlife. “I Love Cats”, a remarkable video highlights Naji’s haunting dramaturgy of light in black-and-white and the sound mixing of Fernando Gullón. In the meantime Lamia Naji is commissioned to photograph the city of Essaouira, in Morocco. There her serendipitous acquaintance with the Gnawas, an ethnic group, who are partly descended from former black slaves, takes place. Despite having adopted Islam over the years, they still celebrate rituals of possession. The deeply hypnotic trance of the music and its effect to the human psyche enable Naji to draw parallels to her experience in Madrid.Her aptitude to capture the unique mood, the dynamics triggered by the rhythm of the music, leads to the creation of a most remarkable body of work, the video “Couleurs Primaires”. She opts for black-and-white photography here as well, captured on film with the introduction of sequences of primary colours, important elements in the rituals of possession.Suddenly, her world is torn apart. The artist’s personal tragedy ultimately precipitates a turning point. Her relentless urge to create allows her to explore the depths of her inner self.“Vertigo”, the new opus, is quite distinctive from all previous works. Geographically ambiguous, it has neither documentary content nor political overtones. Naji’s intuitive switch from black-and-white to colour photography brushes her work with an additional note of veracity, a new insistence upon authenticity.Her work is part of many private and public collections including the National Library in Paris and the Museum Voor Volkenkunde in Rotterdam.In addition, she won various grants including from Unesco – Aschberg in Torino, the “Nederlands Foto Instituut” in Rotterdam, the Cité internationale des arts de Paris. She was honored with the Honour prize for the film « I Love Cats » in France and Spain and the Prize of Honour of Photo Espana 2005.
Visage du Maroc interview, 2016