Hakim Boulouiz – Featured LACP Member, March 2018
Hakim Boulouiz is a Professional Photographer and an Expert in Urban aesthetics with a multidisciplinary training. After receiving a diploma in Architecture, a diploma in Filmmaking, a Master’s degree in Territory Planning, he completed a PhD analyzing the mutual inspiration between urban modernity and the art of short film. Hakim has won several international photography awards. He is active in street photography around the world.
I am a street photographer with a deep passion for cities. This interest in the urban environment was built up throughout my academic career. It comes first from my training as an architect, then from that of a filmmaker (the city was naively the set by default for first films while waiting for the budget, the producer and the studios), and then my doctoral thesis on the Interaction between urban and short films of the French New Wave (one of the most urban cinematic currents of all time, and whose fate has been intricately linked to cities). Gradually, I came to the conclusion that to think of the contemporary relationship faced by man in the urban world is downright one of the tests and mission of an artist. Street arts remains important for any city, as a way to observe and take an interest in its space. It is a way of appropriating the city. It is an anchor point and an active participation in the imaginary. The Man who expresses himself in the city is no longer reduced to an insane passer-by who subjects the city to his malice, he becomes an actor of his real-life, and his urban experience. The street astonishes each time by its moods, its seasons. It is governed by a daily that remains random and hypothetical. The street is learned, it is tame. But it’s never completely controlled. What drives any street photographer, it is the adrenaline to walk towards the hidden and the concealed. The city captivates me, fascinates me, stimulates me, amuses me, but it also shakes me up, torments me, troubles me and preoccupies me. I practice street photography everywhere I find myself. It is wrong to believe that street photography is only practiced on the street. It can be done outside as well as inside, in a dentist’s waiting chair, among an over excited crowd watching a Lucha Libre match, between the mazes of a Soviet underground passage or at the edge of an empty swimming pool. What counts in street photography is not the street but the “street spirit” (improvising, rapidity, randomness) as opposed to “studio spirit” (calculation, mastery, and cutting).
One of the big decisions I made one day, was to acquire real walking shoes (expensive, supple and solid) with which to go confront the object of my desire (the city). In other words, I stroll for hours in search of unexpected associations between elements which the urban yoke offers to me. In this quest, the unconscious and instincts remain fabulous engines of creation. I then continuously seek to tell diverse stories with my tools, stories centered around poetry, mystery, and paradox, using all the layers involved in the construction of an urban drama. I do not hide from you that sometimes I dream of becoming invisible not by cowardly and mediocre voyeurism but simply to be more immersed in my subject. Besides, a voyeur could very well hide at an enormous distance or behind the hole of a lock. On the other hand, a photographer in immersion does not necessarily hide his presence about him. But he possesses the talent to make himself forgotten, in his worry to not affect the behavior of his subject and to let his natural and habitual actions reign. I dream of being invisible, to be able to propose the visible. Do you know that all the art of street photography is to make the invisible visible?
I devote a lot of effort to shooting. My biggest challenge while on the street is to be able to get closer to the subject. I use both analog and digital cameras, but only with fixed wide lenses. All my projects are based on ordinary situations and daily gestures. However, every ordinary moment can be transformed into an extraordinary one through the lens. The real can become surreal. I see photography in a surrealist way. The surreal is no longer an end in itself, but an element to be introduced to the real. It permits that from now on, discoveries to be integrated into the consciousness in order to realize acts. Photographic art seems to me to be the best space to dive into a dream, fantasy, poetry, and any photographic creation should serve only to open the world of the imaginary. Cities are magic by their singularities, which is why their images remain so essential. My goal is to inspire the viewer and share with him a piece of the city and a piece of life. I am a photographer because I would like for people to stop and think. I am convinced that powerful images can change the way you see the world for the rest of your life. They motivate the observer to ask questions and take actions that lead to changes. To me, this is the greatest goal of an artist, a utopia that motivates me every moment, in every displacement, and in every face to face with the unknown. I also constantly seek humor and absurdity. These are ways by which everyday hypocrisy can be brought to an end. They allow a distancing from the real, a liberation of feelings, an approach to the world from another angle. The urban scene is full of paradox. It is also funny and dangerous. Through photography, I also seek to raise questions about the fragility of human life, which could be crushed at any moment. Our individual interpretations vary from one person to another. The best image resides in an ability to convey moments of reflection to the man himself and to clear a path that might make sense to him.