Carolle Bénitah (*1965, MAR)


Carolle Bénitah was born 1965 in Casablanca (Morocco) and graduated from the Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne (Paris). She worked for ten years as a fashion designer before turning to photography in 2001, explores memory, family and the passage of time. Often pairing old family snapshots with handmade accents, such as embroidery, beading and ink drawings, Bénitah seeks to reinterpret her own history as daughter, wife, and mother. Carolle Bénitah workes and lives in Marseilles, France. 

“Jamais je ne t’oublierai (I will never forget you) is a work on family recollection—of happy, sometimes imagined and also negative memories. 


I realized that there were very few images of my parents before their marriage. It is an image desert that can only be explained by the fact that my parents were born in the Morocco of the 1930s, a time without many modern conveniences. My grandmother kept the few existing photographs locked away, so as no to evoke the tragedy of the accidental loss of one of her sons. A blindspot for this life of pain. But the lack of pictures made me feel orphaned and without roots.


So eventually, I started to buy anonymous photographs on flea markets and have been collecting them since. I am drawn to the happiness displayed in these photographs, by people who I did not know existed, people who loved and disappeared. They are ghosts who silently follow me around, and I use them to build an imaginary family album that mends oblivion. I reconstruct the missing memory of my family by inventing and tailoring from the found images what has disappeared, people as well as places. I choose positive and idealized aspects of an identity in order to illustrate all these fables that tend to be told about ancestors.


These discarded mementos I acquire for a few euros change their status by a gesture: I apply gold leaf onto the photograph. By covering parts of the image, and more specifically the faces of these “ghosts”, I open them up for projections. Gold, this material of fantasy and greed, is a stainless metal. Unlike a black hole that absorbs all matter, the flat golden surface is a dreamlike universe that rejects matter. The gold operates simultaneously as a memory hole and as a brilliant surface in which our faces are reflected.“
Carolle Bénitah