Karim Skalli’s work challenges how we perceive the so-called everyday and the perceptions of the banal and how our lived spaces and places are formative of our identity.
In his series, Third Space, Karim explores his identity and mixed cultural heritage through a series of photographs, archival images and video stills. As the son of an English mother and a Moroccan father, the project attempts to show the coming together of cultures, the conflicts and juxtaposition created through merging English and Moroccan culture and the influence of this his identity. The work ponders Skalli’s western outsider gaze, his ‘cast on’ view of his father’s homeland whilst at the same time acknowledging his own sense of never being fully British. The images are an intuitive response to two cities in which they have homes; Hull and Fez, reflected upon through a lens of Post-Colonial Discourse and the critical discourse surrounding identity. It draws on the writing of Said, Hall, Bhabha and Gilroy, to explore his personal experience through concepts such as the Third Space, Doubling, Orientalism and a contingent Post- Modern Identity.
“To understand what it means to be of mixed heritage and my position as someone who is in-between designations of identity, I researched theories surrounding post-colonial discourse and its effect on identity. Post-colonial discourse was an important area to understand as it allowed me to recognise my position as mixed race or ‘hybrid’ (Bhabha, 1993). Edward Said, Homi Bhabha and Stuart Hall are all theorists who focus on the theme of post-colonialism and its effect on the post-modern identity. I began by researching their theories on the subject and relating it to my personal experiences. Bhabha argues in Location of Culture (1993) that ‘there is no such thing as a stable identity (that is roughly, an unchanging “personhood” or sense of self.)’ (ibid). Bhabhas main topics of conversation are about hybridity and mimicry, he states that ‘Hybridity is the idea that identities are made up of all different cultures with which they have had contact. When two cultures or nations meet, ideas, language, and material goods are shared between them. That process of sharing forces them to adapt and change.’ (ibid) this argument is firmly backed up by Stuart Hall. Hall argued that hybridity is the result of the ‘postmodern reflection’ (Hall, 1992) an identity that is forever changing, moving with the times and having ‘no fixed, essential, or permanent identity’ (ibid) he states that ‘Identity becomes a moveable feast: Formed and transformed continuously in relation to the ways we are represented or addressed in the cultural systems which surround us’ (ibid)
To an extent, my parents reflect Bhabhas’ theory of hybridity through sharing their different cultures (language, food, art) to the point where each feel part of the other’s culture and reflect this in their everyday lives. To do this they have had to learn and compromise and have changed in the process. This research led me to look at the idea of a third space, a term Bhabha defines as ‘In between the designations of identity’ (Bhabha, 1993) Bhabha argues that a ‘newness’ (ibid) enters the world through a new cultural space; a ‘third space’ (ibid) In this space lie aspects of identity, such as nationality, gender, sexuality, and race. Using it for my own investigation, I used the idea of the third space to understand where I lie in between this juxtaposition of nationality and culture. I created a Venn diagram with the common shared elements in the middle and the differences but influences from each culture on the outside, this helped me understand my position as a ‘hyphen’ identity (a recognition of two identities or a ‘mixture’ of identities.)”