Our seventy fourth interview in this series of intimate interviews is with talented mobile photographer and artist Nizzar Ben Chekroune from Marrakesh, Morocco. You may know his work from his popular Instagram account @nizzarben. This is interview is so good, it will devour you. It’s incandescent. A quote within this interview sums it up in relation to our ‘what is the greatest challenge of our time’ question, he answered ‘Raising consciousness and speaking about love with as much power as we speak about any other negative events (war, violence, climate change …). When we will realize that love is the key, things will start to change’. Enjoy!
To read the other published interviews in this series including artists, Adria Ellis, Rino Rossi, Mehmet Duyulmus, Alexis Rotella, Lou Ann Sanford Donahue, Irene Oleksiuk, Kerry Mitchell, Filiz Ak, Dale Botha, Lisa Mitchell, M. Cecilia Sao Thiago, Deborah McMillion, Rita Colantonio, Amy Ecenbarger, Jane Schultz, Anca Balaj, Joyce Harkin, Armineh Hovanesian, Kate Zari Roberts, Vicki Cooper, Peter Wilkin, Barbara Braman, Becky Menzies, Sukru Mehmet Omur, Sarah Bichachi, Michel Pretterklieber, Alon Goldsmith, Judy Lurie Whalberg, Andrea Bigiarni, Sean Hayes, Oola Cristina, Kathleen Magner-Rios, Linda Toki, Deb Field, Emilo Nadales, Lydia Cassatt, David Hayes, Jean Hutter, Frederic Deschênes, Mark Schnidman, Fatma Korkut, Fleur Schim, Rob Pearson-Wright, Dieter Gaebel, James Ellis, Marco P Prado, Jeronimo Sanz, Manuela Matos Monteiro, Bleu Chemiko, Manuela Basaldella, Stefania Piccioni, Luis Rodríguez, Marilisa Andriani (@mitrydate) Mayte Balcells (@artofmayte), Nicole Christophe, Jennifer Graham, Cathrine Halsør, Paul Toussaint, Carol Wiebe, Julie Denning, Kim Clayton (@berleyart), Karen Messick, Serap Utaş, MaryJane Rosenfeld, Paul Suciu, Susan Latty (@pause.and.breathe), John Nieto, Phyllis Shenny, Joy Barry, Max Lies Derdonk, Rita Tipunina, Violet Martins and myself, go here.
All images ©Nizzar Ben Chekroune
What was your earliest childhood ambition?
To be like my dad. I wanted to be a good father like he was to us, that would definitely be my first ambition in life. As I grew up, I forgot about the idea … But now that I am answering this question, I realize that becoming a father changed my whole life perspective. I quit my job and decided to live differently so that I can have more time with my son.
I strive to be an example to my young boy and this can’t be done without being fulfilled on a daily basis. I try as much as I can to live my passions. Art & Photography.
I was invited for a work conference in Jordan in 2017, I took a day to visit Petra, the treasure.
I remember feeling art all over me and being amazed about very small details. I followed Bedouins who would escalade two times faster than me, I tried to take pictures, but it was difficult. When we reached the top of the mountain and had a view to the Treasure, my only concern was to capture the look of my guide … I clicked and two months later an old friend who is a photographer that I deeply respect, asked me to send the HD picture, he framed it and told me that it lied in his living room … I remember feeling joy and fullness. And now, responding to this interview.
I grew up in Marrakesh, Morocco, the culture here doesn’t have young people working during summer or vacation like in Europe or the US, especially if they come from a “wealthy enough family”. I remember watching movies and tv shows and wanting to have a summer job … My first real job (paid one) was at my early 20s, I worked as a PR and community manager in a night club. I remember taking a lot of pictures of friends, people, party, and waiting for the end of the night to post them at 6 am, that was surely one of my favorite parts of the job.
Private or State school?
I had the chance to grow up in a “wealthy enough” family who could afford to pay for private education. I went to the French school and was lucky to get the best education possible. Morocco is a country that was under French protectorate for more than 40 years, as a result, the country speaks both Arabic and French. The French system remains the best in the country and offers more opportunity, especially for those who have ambitions to go abroad for University. Which I did.
University or work?
I went to University in Paris. I was a so young… When I look at my five years old son, I imagine him leaving me at 18 years old like I did and it kind of makes me feel anxious. Still, these years were the most constructive years of my life.
Living alone and holding the responsibility to deserve the chance I had by succeeding was truly a pressure but also a motor.
The University gave us the opportunity to go to other European countries for our masters degree, I chose Barcelona and Vienna where I spent two years.
Who was or still is your mentor?
I have met and still have the chance to cross roads with amazing people.
Smart, ambitious and benevolent. I dedicate my time and energy to learn from every person I meet, I consider them the mirror of my soul. Therefore, I am surrounded by mentors, every day. Your vibe attracts your tribe and the other way around.
How physically fit are you?
I try to awake my body every morning with a hundred push ups. And I also play football and basketball with friends something like twice a month on average.
I always feel I can do more. I deeply believe that when your body is respected, the mind follows.
Ambition or Talent. What matters more to success?
It is very hard for me to answer this one without having the words of Jack Brel (the Belgian Singer) in mind.
He said : “Talent is desire. Talent does not exist. Talent is about wanting to do something”.
However, I think some people are touched by the hands of “god”.
Those who have the ambition to get closer to “god” will keep watering their talent.
How politically committed are you?
Not a member of any party and will never be.
But still, I would say that my work serves my socio-political convictions.
I have worked for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization as a Cluster Expert for four years. My mission was to create an association of creative people and better their competitively through an action plan.
Also, I worked in parallel for two years for United States Agency for International Development to help young students with their soft skills.
I have always tried to bring art and photography to the table and succeeded in a very different way than expected by my superiors, it always opened new perspectives, especially with UNIDO. As I created a brand called La Minute Creative, one minute creative videos.
I was invited in Algiers, Jordan, Slovenia & Egypt to talk about it.
My engagement with these agencies was definitely political as it had an expected result to better the lives of people around me.
What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
Consciousness and detachment. I am working on that daily. Meditation helps a lot for that.
As I see life with my two small eyes, the key of prosperity in every area of life, lies behind consciousness and detachment.
What is your biggest extravagance?
A trip to Mexico, Tulum with my wife. It had been few years since we didn’t travel as just the two of us.
One day she said I want to go to Tulum, I remember not having the enough budget to afford it. Still I said ok, let’s do it, let’s plan it for the next 6 months and we will do it.
I was flying superfast on a positive cloud.
I worked harder than ever, having three different jobs, UNIDO, USAID and other private clients for social media strategising and we finally had the time of our lives six months later as predicted… the truth, it was even better !
In which places are you happiest?
The place has no real importance, as long as I am surrounded by love. Could be with family, friend, both or even in an unknown place.
I remember having a crazy night alone at the punk district of Ljubljana Slovenia, most people would feel disgusted or not comfortable in such dark place. I felt both home and alive there, as it was filled with love, the love of freedom, the love of life, the love of being who you truly are.
What ambitions do you still have?
Still ? I am ambitious!
I want to participate in the creation of the world where my child will grow up. I want to share love every day, art is a shortcut. All types of art.
The feeling of pursuing something is the very meaning of life. I chase myself every day.
What drives you on?
The expression of my art. The fact that I feel deep in my guts that I still have so much to offer and have to find the right pipe(s) … The result becomes meaningful as the journey extends.
Discovering my truth through sharing my guts via art, is the path I have chosen.
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
Without a single doubt my son. Aydann is a happy smart funny loveable boy, and that I believe I participate every day to achieve.
When I see us having time together at a time where most parents are working, I realize that I have made the right choice for my career. I try to give him wings as he already made me fly away.
What do you find most irritating in other people?
Intrusion, curiosity and speaking about other people. These are the things that always made me back up from a relationships very fast.
As I grow, I realize that negativity becomes my top one thing, people complaining and always looking at the glass half empty make me want to run. And I do run, at least in my head.
If your twenty year old self could see you now, what would she think?
My 20 year old me would say : “Waw, you married that girl ? How did you meet back ? I am trying to get her number but I can’t find it. Tell me, how ?! You revenged us – High five !”.
My 20 yea old me’s ego would feel very good about me marrying this girl that was my unique love at first sight and who left me for another guy when I was 15.
Which object that you’ve lost do you wish you still had?
I deeply have no attachment for objects … But I feel very bad about our vinyl collection that was stolen a few years ago. This collection was a gold mine.
Yeah, I wish we still had it.
What is the greatest challenge of our time?
Raising consciousness and speaking about love with as much power as we speak about any other negative events (war, violence, climate change …). When we will realize that love is the key, things will start to change.
Do you believe in the afterlife?
I believe in many lives occurring at the same time. Linearity is something I erased form my religious believes.
Therefore an end that would be the beginning of something else is for me a non-sense.
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