Semites: The Album

Charif Benhelima


Artist Book
Materials: ink on paper

Collection: Collection M HKA / library (Inv. no. B 2026/827).

The book Semites: The Album by Charif Benhelima is published in a signed edition and limited to 500 copies.  For this series, the artist uses a Polaroid camera to take photographs of already existing images.  In what he himself describes as an imitation documentary, the artist examines concepts such as identity and reality.  The direct impulse for this was Benhelima's discovery that his own name is in fact of Jewish origin.  By combining Jewish, Arabic and Sephardic portraits with portraits of himself, he creates a personal document and at the same time a confusing collage of contradictory identities.  In the reproductions, the reflection of the Polaroid's flash is clearly visible.  But instead of clarifying the subjects' facial traits, the light engenders a blurring of the faces' details.  "That connects with the vague memories that we have of our childhood years. The memories that I have of my own parents, too, are rather vague..." 

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