Hanane El Ouardani (NL, b. 1994) lives and works in Amsterdam, where she graduated from The Hague’s Royal Academy of Art in 2018. Whilst El Ouardani envies those who have a clear sense of belonging, at the same time, she appreciates the experience of being an outsider – which allows her to absorb the many differences that make each of us unique. Her work is often inspired by general notions of representation and home, as well as stereotypes and societal status. She strives to create subjective documentary projects that stem from smaller, personal narratives, which can, in turn, speak to bigger stories about the convergence of cultures.
During her studies, and in reflecting on her own identity, El Ouardani developed a strong affinity with her parents’ birthplace: around the city of Nador in Morocco’s Rif Mountains. Digging through the stories and memories of her summer vacations to the region, the visual dialogue she initiated posed a number of questions. Where is home? And where do we belong in a transnational society? How can we recapture a sense of ‘home’ without falling into cyclical cultural clichés?
The Skies are Blue, The Walls are Red is a visual diary contemplating the different layers of a diasporic identity. The images observe everyday life on city streets, paying close attention to architectural features, advertisements, the offerings of local vendors and people – primarily men. How can one represent their roots without feeling alienated from their own culture? Each of the images originates from the same question: is this me? The project studies the notion of identity from the perspective of someone who has lived outside it, questioning its validity, and creating a conversation between the artist and the place she calls home.