Jul 08, 2015
Btihal is a Moroccan Architect and Photographer born and raised in Germany. At a young age Btihal started studying Law, but soon she realized that this was not her thing and decided to change for Architecture, completing her Degree and enrolling into the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna afterwards.
The series “Other World” was made in a Hammam (Turkish bath) in 2014 in Morocco and encloses a strange and fascinating story:
“Actually I had the idea to photograph a Hammam because I was interested in that space, how people use it, and how borders are defined. But it turned out that it wasn’t about a human space, but something different…
People warned me to make photos in the Hammam, because it is a place where so called Djins suppose to live. Djins are supernatural creatures that love warm places with high air humidity. Especially at night! The stories of the local people tell that they are ugly, small spindly beings with claws on hands and feet that appear after sunset. The People were scared of them and told me that they try to hurt humans.
Well I didn’t care about it. I was worried that I could get in trouble if I do some photos of naked people or the high temperature in combination with my camera. So I tried to get in and I got in a lot of troubles with the people as it is forbidden to photograph in a Hammam. This is what I did then. I rented the Hammam and I had to wait until sunset so that all the people would get out. Time has a big importance for them and apparently also for Djins.
I got the keys and I stepped inside with my cousin. We turned on all the lights, I put my tripod on the ground and started to shoot with a Hasselblad 500c/m and a Lubitel 166. Both equipped with Kodak Portra 400. When I started to shoot something strange happened. I heard the sound of moving buckets and in the beginning I thought that it was my cousin, but he was next to me, holding my stuff. The sound didn’t stop. Then the lights went off and on in an interval. I didn’t use a flash, I never do so I took my torchlight, but also this didn’t work anymore. My cousin begged me to go out and I said that I want at least to finish my second roll. I finished it and we left. When we were outside facing the Hammam the man who rented it to us said “you displeased them”. All the people who warned me asked me in the end if the photos are good or if the Djins jumped into my camera. Funny thing is that when I was back home and I developed the film almost everything was black. Two films in two different cameras with very similar settings and almost everything was black.”