These Female Bikers In Morocco Are The Epitome Of Badassery

Photographer Hassan Hajjaj wants to show what his country is truly like.

To outsiders, Morocco is often seen as a vivid, exotic place. Famous icons from the West have called Morocco home at various points in history. 

As a photographer, Hassan Hajjaj realized many photo shoots that take place in the country peruse models, clothing and cultures from the West, with his country as a mere backdrop. So Hajjaj set out to present his culture and people in their own environment and one of the results is a visually stunning portrait series called 'Kesh Angels.

The photographs capture various women in veils and traditional Moroccan robes perched atop bikes.

HASSAN HAJJAJ Blue Eyes, 2010
HASSAN HAJJAJ Blue Eyes, 2010 Courtesy of the artist and Taymour Grahne Gallery, New York

Hajjaj, Moroccan-born and based in the UK, said in an email to A Plus that 'Kesh Angels was inspired by the old city of Marrakech. 

"Marrakech is a city full of bikes due to the way the old city is laid out," he wrote. "Everyone uses bikes, older and younger men, women and children, sometimes dressed traditionally and sometimes in Western outfits." 

Marrakech is the fourth-largest city in Morocco and these women show how diverse its culture is.

The women photographed are Hajjaj's friends of friends or neighbors.

HASSAN HAJJAJ M., 2010
HASSAN HAJJAJ M., 2010 Courtesy of the artist and Taymour Grahne Gallery, New York

Ultimately, Hajjaj's goal was to portray his homeland simply as what it is. "I know that for some people in the West, to see a veiled woman riding a bike is not something they could imagine," he wrote. "But for me, I wanted to show that at the end of the day, really it's just normal."

'Kesh Angels blends the old with the new, the East with the West. The portraits' frames highlight the uniqueness of Moroccan culture by featuring products easily available in the country, including Coca-Cola cans and local canned goods.

"The world has become completely globalized so these products are symbols of a universal language," Hajjaj told A Plus. "The way the frames are done are mosaic-like, which is also a traditional Moroccan craft I wanted to highlight. So once again it's about mixing the two as they are always mixed in my culture."

See more of ''Kesh Angels':

HASSAN HAJJAJ Camo & Dots, 2001
HASSAN HAJJAJ Camo & Dots, 2001 Courtesy of the artist and Taymour Grahne Gallery, New York
HASSAN HAJJAJ Brown Eyes, 2010
HASSAN HAJJAJ Brown Eyes, 2010 Courtesy of the artist and Taymour Grahne Gallery, New York
HASSAN HAJJAJ Romancia, 2010
HASSAN HAJJAJ Romancia, 2010 Courtesy of the artist and Taymour Grahne Gallery, New York
HASSAN HAJJAJ Khadija, 2010
HASSAN HAJJAJ Khadija, 2010 Courtesy of the artist and Taymour Grahne Gallery, New York

Cover image via Hassan Hajjaj and Taymour Grahne Gallery, New York