Naïma El Kadi, My Olive Tree, Memouna

JTF (only facts): Self-published in 2021 (here). Thin cover (17 x 24 cm), 56 pages, 34 photos. Includes poems by the artist. In an edition of 100 copies. Designed by Studio Asja Keeman. (Cover and post the shots below.)

Comments/Context: Naima Al-Qadi is a research-based artist, usually working on long-term projects, exploring personal stories related to family relationships, identity, and social issues. Al-Qadi moved to Belgium when she was ten years old. Born in Rabat, Morocco, her parents moved from the small, remote village of Ait Adoul in the Rif Mountains just before she was born. Because she feels at home in both places but also doesn’t belong in either, Judge turns to photography to find her lost balance.

Her first self-published picture book, My olive tree, catering, She translates her search for identity and homeland (and the various elements that are associated with the idea of ​​”home”) into images, particularly landscapes and people. In an effort to understand and learn more about her homeland and the place her ancestors came from, the judge traveled to Morocco, back to the village where her parents were born.

olive tree auspicious It is a relatively small and thin book, and it immediately feels intimate and personal. A small Polaroid image of an olive tree is placed in the middle of the cover, and the title in Arabic appears above it. Pictures vary in size and placement on subsequent pages. Two poems by the artist, printed on olive green paper, are located in the center of the book and interrupt the visual flow. The phrase “my olive tree” in the book’s title refers to the olive trees that grow in the area, where they are the source of life. Maimouna was the name of the artist’s grandmother.

Most of the judge’s images are dreamy and misty, based on distant feelings and ephemeral notions, and it is inevitable that instinctive sensory perceptions will dominate the general flow. The book begins with dreamy landscapes slightly out of focus, followed by a spread with outer folds showing another set of hills and valleys. They symbolize the process of returning to fragmented memories, but also an appreciation of the beauty of Moroccan nature. Then there is a photo of the artist as a young girl (the artist’s first passport photo), and here it is deliberately blurred, again toying with the idea of ​​blurred memories.

One folded space opens to a photograph showing a woman in white walking outside in a rocky area, near the ruins of an old building. Faded and distorted, the old Polaroid image at right shows blurry silhouettes of an adult and a child, possibly of the artist and her father. These images, when put together, attempt to connect the past with the present.

In the first poem, Judge shares memories of the day her grandmother unexpectedly fell into the bath and died, when the artist was only four years old. “No one told me that my grandmother had died ‘the only thing I knew for sure was that I would never see her again.’” The words are followed by black and white spreads full bleeding of nature, and color drains away. The second poem in the book is about her first experiences in Belgium, followed by pictures of Capturing her on expired Polaroid photos.The judge photographed her daughter, connecting three generations of women, and the distortions created a dreamy atmosphere, emphasizing once again the quality of elusive memories.

A number of picture books published in recent years have explored an incomplete family history, researching one’s roots and reflecting on the idea of ​​a home. Tara Krajnac turned to non-traditional photographs, translations, and archival entertainment to research the circumstances of her birth and adoption (see here). Diana Markusian re-enacted the story of family migration using soap operas in her picture book Santa Barbara (check here). Recently, Jano Edwards offered a tender and intimate view of his native Jamaica in since when (Revised here).

Taken together, the judge’s photos have an almost ambiguous feel. olive tree auspicious It is a humble and simple publication, yet a thoughtful and personal photographic project, interacting with childhood memories and unanswered questions. It’s a visual diary that pays tribute to memories, people and the earth. As we follow the judge’s meditative visual process, the journey becomes just as important as the outcome, becoming a personal story with a global dimension.

POV collector: Neamat Al-Qadi does not appear to have a consistent representation in the photo gallery at this time. As a result, interested collectors will likely follow up directly with the artist via her website (linked in the sidebar).

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