“I was introduced to this tradition through the tales my parents told me when I was a kid”, says 26-year-old Italian-Moroccan photographer Karim El Maktafi, who has long-been fascinated with Fantasia—a mesmerizing Moroccan equestrian tradition which dates back to the eighth century. Having travelled to his father’s hometown, Bouznika, during the summer of 2017, the young photographer finally saw the art of Fantasia through his own eyes, and decided to create a photo series to capture the essence of the ancient art.
El Maktafi started taking pictures on his old mobile phone, when he was a teenager. Instinctively, he decided he had to upgrade his craft. After having put money to one side, he managed to buy a camera and enrol in a photography course so he could understand the technicality behind the art. “I remember telling my teacher that, through her course, I had found what I wanted to do in life”, he says before adding, “so as soon as I turned 18, I moved to Milan and dedicated my time to photography”.
Since then, El Maktafi has been using his camera lens to explore crucial topics like identity, belonging and memory. “These themes concern me both as a photographer and as a human being”, he explains. Despite the warlike essence of the Fantasia ritual, which consists of a group of horse riders, who charge along a straight path at the same speed to form a line, before firing into the sky using old muskets, his series has a somewhat poetic, ethereal quality to it. “My photography aims to see people embrace other cultures and emphasize with them”, he affirms.