Looking For You is a creative collaboration between freelance photographer Laila Hida and fashion innovator Artsi Ifrach. Laila Hida b. 1983, lives and works in Marrakech where she founded the alternative culture and arts space ‘Derb el Ferrane’. As a freelance photographer Hida has built an extensive portfolio from her ten years of experience and exposure working with fashion magazines in both Paris and Casablanca. Arsti Ifrach, also Marrakech based, is best known for his forward thinking fashion label Art/C specialising in ‘modest minded’ apparel.
Hida and Ifrach have worked together on a number of projects with Ifrach as designer and Hida as photographer such as The House Collection FW14 and the ‘Ethiopian Collection’ shot in Adis-Ababa, 2014. In all of their collaborations styling, the set and carefully considered composition are the key to the execution of the images.
In 2014 Hida turned to more personal artistic projects and in the photographic series entitled Looking for You Hida explores the experience of finding oneself, a routine she believes occurs within every day routine. The execution of the project clearly contains the remains of a strong influence from the fashion industry.
Looking For You is made of 11 portraits, each an allegory to question current events or social ideas. The portraits are the same figure however in each a different character is conveyed as looking for something; spirituality, materiality, the past, new ways of thinking, a response. Naturally Hida turned to Ifrach to dress the sitter of the series as she poses before a plain white background with an accessory, a veil, a suitcase, a television, a branch.
She, the figure of the portrait is clothed in white, covered except for her face, expressionless facing the camera head on. Hida has removed all sense of the personal with the chosen sitter; the viewer faces the woman as a neutral, universal representation of ourselves. She is ambiguous in ethnicity, religion, age and emotion. She is the blank canvas to which we can insert our own self. However Hida reasserts the personal through objects that the sitter wears that represent the different elements people are in search of. The accessory in each image is black or neutral in stark contrast to the white background and clothing so that it is this that expresses the meaning and the quest.
Hida chose for her subject to wear the objects as opposed to pose with them, they become part of her dress, part of her character, tying in to the idea of daily routine, of waking up and the importance of dressing. To go out to life, to work, to a family, to a new direction, clothes can encase us, hide us and identify us. Hida here is using them to show what we are in search of and how these quests become part of our everyday.
Hida and Ifrach continuously work with thought out compositions of balance when photographing fashions shoots. The images in Looking For You take on a sense of the iconic through the implementation of the conventional methods of fashion photography. Through this apparent simplicity Hida asserts a sense of confidence in her images. The photographs are clean and contemporary, repetitive in their size and layout; however the choice of 11, an odd number leaves you wanting a continuation.
11 portraits displays the array of different concepts or ideals that one could be in search for, it also offers that the woman in this series is in search of them all, and furthermore what will be continual search, as is the nature of self discovery and growth. The accessories illustrate the many different ways in which we strive to find ourselves, in a routine and ritual that continues everyday. Our quest is never ending, personal and a journey of growth and in Looking for You Hida and Ifrach show how this is both intimate and universal.
Wake up in the morning
open your eyes
right after that, your heart.
Breath and say thanks
looking for you every day
and every day finding you.
Another piece of something that keeps going on
close you eyes and rest again.
ART/C and LAILA HIDA