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Hajar Benjida

Artist 291

Hajar Benjida

Documentary

Photography



Hajar Benjida (born 1995) is a Dutch-Moroccan photographer born and based in The Netherlands. Hajar Benjida is known for documenting the overlooked women of US hip-hop culture.


Hajar has been working on the project since 2018, when she began photographing dancers at Atlanta’s world-famous strip club, Magic City.



Born and now based in the Netherlands, Moroccan-Dutch photographer Hajar Benjida found herself behind the camera almost by accident. “I just sort of landed in it, I never imagined myself being a photographer,” she tells It’s Nice That.


Quickly, Hajar made a name for herself, particularly in the hip-hop, rap and grime worlds and while she was still a university student, she had already snapped portraits of Skepta, Joey Bada$$, Swae Lee, Lil Yachty, Young Thug and many more.



Her introduction into the world of music was as bold as her introduction to photography – Hajar just started turning up at shows and asking artist managers if she could come backstage to take a Polaroid or a portrait.


Reflecting on this, it’s one of the things she loves most about her chosen career, saying that “a camera can basically give you access to anywhere you want as long as you have a genuine interest.” That, and respect for whatever subject it is you’re pursuing.



This was certainly the case when Hajar started working on her series Atlanta Made Us Famous, a series which springboards from her music photojournalism career but in a more documentarian manner.


The series began in 2018 when Hajar was working at a photography studio in Atlanta. That photography studio was over the road from the world-famous Magic City, “a legendary strip club that should be familiar to anyone who knows anything about rap music.”



Hajar started visiting the club, photographing the women who work there, in turn, highlighting their often-overlooked importance in the Atlanta hip-hop scene.


“In US hip-hop culture, strip clubs like Magic City are the launch pad for hit records and superstar careers, and the dancers are a vital part of the scene,” she further explains.



Over the course of several weeks, Hajar “spent days and nights with my camera and lighting rig documenting the club’s dancers.”


The resulting images are personal and intimate – a signature of Hajar’s portfolio – something Hajar achieved through the process of getting to know each of her sitters.



Through this process, she learned about “how they approached their work, their sexualities, ownership over their images” and, importantly, “their relationships to motherhood.” This is something which features heavily in the series, providing insight into the stories and lives of those so often not given the chance to tell theirs.



On what she hopes viewers can take from the series, Hajar explains that she hopes, above all, “to show that their images hold power and importance beyond hip-hop and its surrounding culture. From my perspective, it’s these women that shine as the stars of the city.”




“I really see these women as an important part of the Atlanta hip hop scene," Hajar explains about her acclaimed series. "By photographing them I wanted to show the other face of Atlanta. Not through the eyes of a man, as is often the case in the hip hop scene, but rather that of a woman.”



Sources consulted:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/i-d.vice.com/amp/en_uk/article/jgeew8/hajar-benjida-year-in-photos

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