Woman Crush Wednesday: Maïmouna Guerresi
Interview by Arielle Bobb-Willis
Although you have many talents including sculpture, video, and installation, what draws you towards photography? Was there a lightbulb moment when you realized that this could be a medium where your spirituality could be expressed?
Among the different techniques that I use for my work, the medium of photography is what I prefer more, because it has characteristics of being immediate, that is, to grasp with one click, the particular expression of a face, a gesture, an action, while the sculpture, with whom I made several works , the construction process is slower, elaborate and complex. Anyhow, I like to stage different expressive techniques and try to make them interact with each other, creating a circular language. An example is the photographic work entitled "Cosmos" which represents a veiled woman, photographed from above while turning on itself, as in a dance. In this case, I have had the insight to get out of the classic rectangular or square form of photography. I created , an installation made up of many photographic circles of different sizes on Plexiglas, which arranged on the wall seem to look like many planet
There is a theme throughout your work that brings empowerment towards women and more specifically mothers. How do women inspire you to create?
In the course of my work I have developed different themes but with a common concept which is the affirmation of women's spirituality. In my work, often I represent the image of the African Muslim woman (with which I identify myself spiritually) as a strong and powerful woman and not submissive and dejected as she is often shown by the Western media.
Your photographs exude a place of universal respect and understanding of all. How did your work broaden your perspective on life and who you are as a person? Was there any seminal experiences you've encountered?
I find almost impossible to separate my life experiences to my artistic work. Encounters, emotions, and sensations have contributed to my personal and artistic growth, especially the encounter with the Muslim mystic culture of Muridism in west Africa. This has led to the need for me to express my inner experiences through my art.
What kind of creative patterns, routines, or rituals do you have? Is there a certain process that comes before, during, and after each shoot?
In my work there is almost always a project and composition phase, but in the process of work, changes occur often, especially when i photograph in outdoor areas, the unexpected can happen ... a gust of wind, a ray of sunlight or an object that I put at the last moment can change the scene in an unexpected way, the click then decides the final result. Moreover, almost like a ritual, I paint, and then I delete the backdrops that realizable for every work.
What keeps your mind focused and motivated to continue to keep producing your photographs?
The desire of a continuous inner search, which requires the strength of not being influenced by thousand of external interferences.
How would you describe your creative process in one word?
As a cell which contracts and expands
If you could teach one, one-hour class on anything, what would it be?
Perhaps, I would do so many questions to them about what they think of spirituality
What was the last book you read, or film you saw, that inspired you?
I often re-read books, I am now re-reading "The Sultane Forget" by Fatima Mernissi
What is the most played song in your music library?
Gnawa, a hypnotic music from Morocco
How do you take your coffee?