20 Jul 2020


“In Spring 2018, Safouane Ben Slama travelled through Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Exploring the vast expanses and endless horizons of the Moroccan desert and the Tunisian coastline, he also wandered through the streets of Algiers to encounter those who populate the city.

Following the example of the psycho-geographic experiments conducted by Guy Debord, who studied how places affect our feelings and behavior, Safouane Ben Slama's approach consists in exploring the territory through a “conscious wandering” in which one is guided by the effects that the city can produce. Praise of the Shade thus exhibits a careful observation of the light. Often in mutation, at sunset, the sky holds a central position in this series. But the foreground is often the direct environment, be it natural or urban, in which the effects of this ongoing transformation are perceptible. Safouane Ben Slama thus highlights a dialogue, that of the unlimited and immaterial with the current world. This affirmed correspondence between microcosm and macrocosm gives rise to a reflection on the relationship between the individual and the community. The sky, a universal backdrop, then appears as a common denominator for all.

Safouane Ben Slama attaches great importance to the dimensions of human existence, and in this context, the landscape presents itself as an extension of the soul. To watch a sunset is to experience the passage of time and its relationship to the world in a phenomenology of time to see, here and now. From this contemplative attitude stems a kind of re-enchantment of the everyday life. The title of the Praise of the Shade series and its borrowing from the eponymous book by Japanese author Junichirô Tanizaki then takes on its full meaning. The book deals with a concept as aesthetic as it is spiritual, the Wabi-Sabi. If Wabi refers to the plenitude and melancholy one can feel when faced with nature and solitude, Sabi evokes the sensation of the work of time. Tanizaki's Praise of the Shade is an ode to simplicity and discretion, against the flashy, the glitz and the boisterous, in order to appreciate the beauty of imperfect, modest, and time-altered things. In line with this philosophy, Safouane Ben Slama has chosen to focus his attention on those wonders that have remained in the metaphorical “shade”, to highlight this less obvious beauty that has undergone the patina of time and learn to look again.

Practicing relishing the harmony in the irregularity of a facade, admiring the dryness of a cracking soil, or appreciating dirt or rust on a surface because it produces an unexpected shade. One can then enjoy watching brambles entangled in the ironwork of a balcony for their decorative character, or the body of a bus that has been abandoned, because the stripping of its structure is similar to that of the desert in which it is located.

A range of dull colors, textures that respond to each other... Together, the images reveal their power and acquire a synergy. They illustrate a coherent atmosphere and point of view: Praise of the shade is the experience of a Maghrebian dream, a story of the gaze and a hymn to brotherhood.

Safouane Ben Slama describes this practice of pure beauty that is simply shared with others as “aesthetic solidarity”. He, in fact, attributes almost political qualities to beauty since it generates actions or rather a pause, an interruption in the life of each person dedicated to contemplation. Praise of the Shade alternates moments of meditation and moments of connection. A connection between the photographed and their environment, but also a connection between the photographer and his subject. Arm in arm, intersecting hands, architectural interlacing, satellite dishes on the rooftops, all signs and symbols of relationships that are forged and bonds affirmed. It is simply a question of taking the time to experience the passage of time, alone or in a group, like these two teenagers who meet every evening to watch the sunset “because it's beautiful”, they say.

Elsa Delage


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21 Jul 2020

Workshop « De L’improvisation À La Composition » Elma Riza

29 Novembre 2019 ; Teriak Jbel Oust

22 Jul 2020


13 Février 2020 ; L’Atelier, Kilani Groupe, La Charguia 1