In May 2013 and for 4 days, the photographers created the First Euro-Maghreb Residence of Photographers, in a project funded by the European Union. Their challenge was to bring more visibility to the history and the rich traditions of Sfax, as an example of the influences of the different civilisations that have shaped the Mediterranean throughout the centuries.
The Sfax Project was, for the artists and the local population, a good occasion for exchanging and sharing. After having been inaugurated in Sfax in November 2013, the photos are now presented in Kheireddine Palace, on Bourguiba Avenue and in some shop windows of the Medina of Tunis.
The curator, Juan Angel de Corral says:
“For the First Euro-Maghreb Residence of Photographers, celebrated at Sfax, Tunisia, we counted with the presence of photographers coming from all countries from the Maghreb area, as well as many European countries. What we had is an extraordinary variety of points of view. These photographers became builders of a bridge over the Mediterranean, a bridge built upon the fundaments of artistic perception, a bridge of understanding created with a shared goal.
The challenge was to produce a significant body of work on only four days, which was the duration of the Residence. Given the fact that most of the participants never have been at Sfax or even at any Medina wherever it could be, this is not a small challenge.
The easy way, especially on the Medina, is to remain on the purely anecdotic, the superficial, the “exotic”, the “folkloric” and the “colourful” without attempting to go beyond that. This is the way to produce a “nice photo”. But a “nice photo” is not ambitious enough.
It is hard to scratch that apparent reality, to dent triviality and find a core of significance.
To be possessed by an artistic ambition is to dive into that world of appearances and come out with a meaningful story told in the language of light and shadow, of colour and texture, of geometry or anarchy, of presences or absences, of passion, of human warmth, of space and of time.
For that purpose, a story has to be told with a camera and whatever techniques or postproduction the artist deems necessary. They are the keys that will open the doors of perception.
The Exhibition has also to be regarded as a voyage beyond appearances, coming closer to all those anonymous sfaxians whose daily lives run along the busy narrow streets of the Medina as the blood that feeds an organic whole. It is a tribute to people that work hard and that gladly gave us the keys to their homes and to their way of life.
The essence of art is communication. The will to communicate is the driving force of artists. Communication to convey an experience. Artists share their passions, their perceptions and their visions with their work. Communication is a vital need for the artist. And the creative process is a mystery where the artist basically makes combinations of elements that always have been there, but that in certain proportions and relations, reveal something new and unexpected. This is the difference. This is our aim.”