Fatima Zohra Serri's Art Will Keep You Enlightened and Woke
SOURCE: ABOUT HER
He story starts in Nador in northern Morocco, her hometown where she was raised and went to school. After leaving high school, Fatima Zohra Serri had wanted to study photography, which would have meant that she would have to leave her hometown for a new school. Due to her conservative father not permitting her to live alone and so far from her family – her dreams to study photography remained unrealized and she remained at home. Serri studied at Nador’s Applied Technology Institute and eventually became an accountant.
image via Fatima Zohra Serri’s Instagram account
Never losing her passions for art and photography, alongside her 9-5 job, she started posting her work on social media where she uses her work to highlight gender inequality that she faces, along with the women in her community.
Fatima Zohra Serri is witness to a world where women are free to make their own decisions, have opinions, but has also been subject to an unjust attitude towards Arab women within a society she was raised in, where women are still facing inequality and have suppressed voices.
Her portraits are a window into her own reality and start a dialogue about gender inequality. Fatima grew up bound by conservative views on women, which forced her into accountancy over photography, which she dreamed of pursuing. Now, photography is not a hobby, it is the weapon Serri uses to break down the stereotypes shaped by society. She says of her work and inspirations, “The entire concept behind my work rises from my surrounding, and the nature of the conservative society I was brought up in. As time passed, I formed a sense of rejection against the repetitive pattern of behaviour that surrounded me, which further pushed me to reflect my reality through my photographs.”
The groundbreaking photographer thrives on highlighting women’s issues, a popular conversation across the Arab region, often about what society assumes as forbidden or allowed. Fatima Zohra was used to hearing the words “not allowed” and “shameful” growing up, which she believes are the words that society uses to maintain a woman’s ambitions, a framework almost.
“My pictures are a reflection of my daily life, and other women’s lives. I want to depict the challenges we face, and tackle the obstacles created by our society and the community. I believe it’s a more eloquent way of expression when I use my skill instead of my words, especially if it would shed the light on women’s status in society, with the hope of creating a slight impact over their situation,” explains Serri.
Using social media, Fatima was able to partake in dialogue with others living within an Arab culture. One of her most controversial images depicts a silenced woman, who has her eyes covered with a seemingly bloodied sanitary towel – wanting the image to strike the issue about violence against women.
The portrait sparked controversy and she had expected criticisms against the image, but was bemused by negative feedback from women, “A woman’s greatest enemy is herself. She can allow the same ideas that limit her, into her head, and have them control her life, if she believed that society has the right to take over her life. She is also capable of rebellion, believing in herself and defeating the imaginary barrier she thought was her enemy,” Fatima says.
Not letting negative comments deter her, Fatima Zohra Serri continues to believe in women, the ways in which Arab women are progressing and the hope for gender equality, stating, “We cannot deny that Arab women have made quite a difference in recent years, their achievements went a long way, and made it clear to the world that they have a voice worth hearing.”
Serri’s art photography carries a consistent message, and that is one that highlights the importance of women and female empowerment within Arab society. Fatima Zohra concludes, “it goes without saying that women are capable of breaking the shackles society has wrapped around them, but this isn’t a change that occurs overnight. It is crucial that women support each other in the fight for their freedom, because our combined efforts would have our voices reach the entire world.”