The German photographer of Moroccan origin documents the strange ritual of a Muslim brotherhood.
Does bringing out the mystical or representing ritual through photojournalism mean, by definition, to run the risk of coming up against the limits of the medium? In her series The Colors or Djinn, which she began on in 2018, photographer Btihal Remli explores this contradiction by immortalizing the invocation and worship of djinns, those mystical and supernatural creatures from pre-Islam Arabia, as practiced today by the Gnawa community.
Born in Germany to Moroccan parents, Btihal Remli grew up hearing about djinns, those strange and mutable beings, which, even in the pages of the Koran itself, seem to escape any specific physical definition. The Gnawa use color and sounds to invoke jinns during Sufi rituals that turn into trance. By photographing these figures draped in shimmering colors in the middle of Moroccan landscapes, Btihal Remli provides a glimpse of a thousand-year-old religious practice while also managing to give shape to that which is invisible and spiritual—like a freeze-frame of a moment of epiphany, where secular and sacred become one.
By Anne Laurens