Postcards from Tunisia
Wassim Ghozlani, a central figure of young Tunisian photography, named this series ironically: the images it contains are the exact opposite of postcards. First of all, they’re all square, made with a medium-format classic camera, going against rectangular tradition. Second, none of them depict a famous Tunisian place or monument, such as the Great Mosque of Kairouan, the El Jem amphitheatre, or the archaeological site of Carthage. On the contrary, Wassim Ghozlani has photographed ordinary, anonymous places: a country road, an old petrol station, a building, a factory. Last of all, none of these pictures shares the advertising theatricality that characterises postcards. There’s no blue sky or bright sunshine; there are no vivid colours, sea views or beaming craftsmen in their workshops. The colours are muted, the views banal.
By adopting a counterpoint to the imagery of postcards, Wassim Ghozlani subtly pokes fun of the clichés to which his country is often reduced, offering instead a more accurate view of contemporary Tunisia. But the main strength of Postcards from Tunisia lies elsewhere. It lies in the delicate restraint of the images: a jug and a bottle side by side are reminiscent of Morandi; an empty rocket-shaped swing evokes a childhood that has flown away; a road running along the ruins of an aqueduct recalls the passage of time. All these images are imbued with an atmosphere that is hard to define—but if we had to choose a word, it would be “nostalgia”.
By Guillaume de Sardes