Carolle Bénitah [b.1965, Casablanca, Morocco] started practicing photography in the early 2000s following a long career as a fashion designer in Paris. In the face of challenging personal circumstances at that time, Bénitah boldly changed career path and began a new life as a photographic artist. She says “The fragile dimension of life imposed itself on me and photography functioned as an existential crutch”.
Bénitah’s work explores themes of memory, family and the passage of time. Often pairing old family snapshots with handmade accents, such as embroidery, beading and ink drawings, Bénitah seeks to reinterpret her own history as a daughter, wife, and mother.
Her work has been exhibited widely in museum shows, art fairs and gallery exhibitions around the world. As a result her work is now found in many important collections including; The Museum of Marrakech for Photography and Visual Arts, Morocco, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris, France & many more.
“From the outset, I placed my practice in the field of the intimate. Today, my work leads to more open subjects such as family, desire, loss, mourning and confinement and touches on the universal.”
— Carolle Bénitah
Jamais je ne t’oublierai [I will never forget you] is a series that explores dynamics and moments from the artists own difficult past. The vintage images used in this series were selected from flea markets and regularly depict happy, jovial, ‘golden moments’. Memories we can all hopefully call upon from our childhood. The artist is careful not to ignore that family life is not without its challenges though. So naturally touches upon these experiences too. By obscuring the protagonists of these moments in gold, she respectfully conceals their identities whilst at the same time allows us to project our own stories into these scenes.
“A silhouette, a dress, a gesture, all evoke other silhouettes, other dresses, and other gestures, bringing back lost and familiar memories. Landscapes become the backdrops in front of which actors exchange roles… Beyond her mysteries, Carolle Benitah’s poetic work reveals the magic of everyday life transformed by artists.”
— Laura Serani, 2019 [author and curator]
“I am drawn to the happiness displayed in these photographs, by people who I did not know existed, people who loved and disappeared. They are ghosts who silently follow me around, and I use them to build an imaginary family album that mends oblivion. I reconstruct the missing memory of my family by inventing and tailoring from the found images what has disappeared, people as well as places. I choose positive and idealized aspects of an identity in order to illustrate all these fables that tend to be told about ancestors.
These discarded mementos I acquire for a few euros change their status by a gesture: I apply gold leaf onto the photograph. By covering parts of the image, and more specifically the faces of these “ghosts”, I open them up for projections. Gold, this material of fantasy and greed, is a stainless metal. Unlike a black hole that absorbs all matter, the flat golden surface is a dreamlike universe that rejects matter. The gold operates simultaneously as a memory hole and as a brilliant surface in which our faces are reflected.” — Carolle Benitah
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Open Doors Gallery is Carolle Benitah’s UK representative
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