“Photography had a huge influence on me”, says 23-year-old Moroccan photographer Fatima Zohra Serri before adding, “it literally helped me discover myself inwardly”. While Serri initially started taking pictures without thinking, photography very quickly became her medium for self-expression. And because it felt so liberating, she decided to make it a full time job. As a means to overcome her anxiety, Serri uses the power of photography to explore the sensitive and intimate topics surrounding the experience of womanhood in her conservative society.
“These pictures are very important to me. Shooting them truly was like therapy”, she says referring to her serene and emotionally provocative series entitled The Forbidden Apple, which explores bold feelings and depictions of love, anger, loneliness and trust – all of which are themes heavily related to the struggles of the female experience in Morocco. “The creative process of this series allowed me to release so much rage”, she adds explaining how she heals from her art.
Although Morocco recently criminalised violence against women, a government survey found that 63 per cent of women have already been abused, and in 2014, Moroccan parliament amended an article of the penal code allowing rapists of under-aged girls to avoid prosecution if they marry their victims.
For Serri, it has become essential to vocalize these silent but deep pains through her photography. “It is important that we come together as one voice and defend our rights together”, says the young photographer, discussing how women have finally been able to voice their opinion and become more outspoken in recent years. But as a veil-wearing Moroccan, many people in her home country haven’t felt comfortable seeing her being so expressive about womanhood and sexuality, but Serri doesn’t care. “My appearance shouldn’t determine how I think”, she says boldly. And while she might bother some, Serri—who counts 30k followers on Instagram—is successfully opening a much-needed narrative.