Street artist ECB is introducing you to the trades of Morocco by painting the faces of current practitioners who he has met on the street. By now we are familiar with the storytelling role that artists can fulfill with their portraits of individuals who live in a region, town, or neighborhood and street artists, such as the Parisian C215, Canadian Fauxreel and the American Midwesterner Jetsonorama come to mind as well as more recent Brooklyn social activists like LMNOPI and Tatiana Fazlilazadeh.
We have been introducing and recounting street art stories for a number of years now online and in front of audiences, and we find that it never fails to surprise people who learn that many of the images they see on the street are of actual people who live in their community.
Hendrik ECB Beikirch. "Trades" Portrait of Oulad-Bouzid-III, a street barber. The streets of Brooklyn. (photo © Jaime Rojo)
German street artist Hendrik Beikirch, a.k.a. ECB, has been known on the scene in recent years for his massive portraits of people, sometimes subjects known to the artist and other times from his imagination. For his new project in Morroco, ECB returns to a social/anthropological ethos -- a route he says has energized his work by focusing on occupations and trades of his subjects. In doing so, he hopes to preserve something more about their professions and culture -- street barbers, shepherds, even the guy who writes a letter for you.
"I am seeking to capture their 'aura' in this work series," he tells us, "with the goal of making these people immortal in the process." Calling his series "Trades -- Tracing Morocco," he explains that he has made the trip 10 times or more from his home in Koblenz, Germany, to this one in the Maghreb region of North Africa to meet locals and speak with them. As he captures their image and shares it on streets he says he hopes to preserve and elevate the stories of a people in trades that are disappearing.
"I want to transform people from the anonymous to the iconic, while paying tribute to trades that might be gone in the near future."
During his initial visit to Jardin Rouge/Marrakech in the summer of 2014, he "was immediately fascinated by the diversity of this country, its rich history and the contrasts in peoples faces that are somehow created by the environment they live in."
Supported by the Foundation Montresso/Jardin Rouge, Hendrik says that he strives to impart a humanity of the people he has met that passersby can connect to through his paintings. "It is a country with hard working people, many of whom are living a tough life, but with so much pride and happiness."
Right now, ECB is working on creating an exhibition in October with the foundation and he will be publishing a book focusing on the "Trades" series on Éditions Eyrolles.
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