Photographer Lucy Ridgard explores the gender politics and teen fashions found within the changing landscape of Marrakech
Lucy Ridgard focuses her lens on a Morocco that is caught in a state of flux. Composing portraits showing the contradiction of modern with traditional ideals, the London-based photographer explores the gender politics and fashion found within the changing landscape by capturing Moroccan teenage boys in a city she describes as “dreamlike, yet dusty and harsh”.
To explore the notion of modernity, Ridgard photographs the urban surroundings using a medium format camera to slow things down in the images. Teenage boys appear composed against the backdrops of sun-soaked, tranquil landscapes. “I really don't like to shoot too quickly. This also gives me a chance to interact with the subject and to find out something about them, even with the language barrier.”
Signs of the country's changing times are shown through the sportswear aesthetic that these teenagers embrace. “A lot of the boys wear tracksuits, trainers and branded clothes; synthetic fabrics and sportswear are almost indicative of a modernising country and it seems this is a country in transition. You could find the male youth of Marrakech, Marseille, and Manchester all wearing the same Adidas tracksuits or Nike trainers.”
When asked why she chose to document just boys, Ridgard explains, “(Girls) didn't appear to hang about in groups on the streets like the boys or seem so westernised, particularly in their dress sense. When I asked to take a photo a few times it was greeted negatively and with apprehension.” Evidently, there is a harsh contrast between how teenage boys and girls are living, showing that although the area is modernising, traditional ideals and suppression still linger. “On this trip, at least where I travelled, there seemed (to be) an absence of local teenage and adolescent girls... the ones I saw were really quite traditional. At times, it really felt like a boy’s club.”