On a recent trip to Morocco, Finnish photographer Jussi Puikkonen found himself startled by scenes where not all was as it seemed. His series, ‘Hollywood au Maroc’, takes us on a visual journey through a kaleidoscopic country.
In his own words that follow, he explains the bizarre experience of finding Hollywood in Africa: Traveling in the High Atlas Mountains can be deceitful. It is to tell out of the scenery on which part of the world you actually are. Especially when there American gas station next to the road that used to serve as a movie set. You can’t avoid thinking that this is how it looks in the Midwest of the US. Next moment you’re walking in the Egyptian temple and after that in Berber village which feels like movie set even though it is very real.
In the past years, Moroccan town of Ouarzazate has become the mini Hollywood of Africa. Morocco’s tolerant approach towards western productions has brought in the film crews all around the world. Many of the old movie sets are left in the landscape creating a weird contrast to Arab and Berber aesthetics.
The movie sets are non-places in the middle of the desert. These places have no identity, only a false history. It is a strange feeling walking through the sets reflecting the western interests and stereotypes on the area of which western perspective does not have much knowledge from its modern days.