Alexander Coggin made his name as a photographer with a series of images of his husband’s family in their Michigan holiday home, leaving his own family free from the dizzying glare of his flashgun — until now.
Alexander’s latest series Morocco, America is a gently humorous compilation of 23 diptychs taken during an unexpected family trip to Morocco. “When my parents told their five kids last Christmas that we were going to Morocco on a family vacation, I was surprised,” Alexander explains. “My Dad voted for Trump and my Mom is a nervous traveller, so Morocco — an ancient, bustling and largely Islamic country -— was a pleasant surprise. I think my parents really wanted to get out of their comfort zones: a sort-of vacation fit for a mid life crisis.”
Alexander confesses that lensing his own nuclear family historically had previously been difficult, perhaps because their home environment lacked the ease of distance. “I was never quite objectively comfortable shooting them in their habitat, a great big suburban house in Jenkintown, a Philadelphia suburb. So I jumped at the opportunity to turn my lens on them and their experience in a foreign place like Morocco.”
The country’s conservative socio-cultural attitudes saw Alexander moderating his daily behaviour and seeking solace in his sunburnt, sandy and exhausted family. “As a gay person travelling in a very conservative country, my husband and I (and my sister and her same-sex fiancé, for that matter) had to play on the side of caution, not showing signs of affection in public and generally tailoring, a bit, our decades worked-for flamboyances, attitudes and wardrobes as queers. Even private and consensual same-sex sexual activity is illegal in the country. I only bring this up to say that, faced with this reality, I found myself very comfortable instead pointing my lens inward on my family — not focusing on, say, the faces of Moroccans but rather on my family’s collective experience through the lens of tourism and economy and cultural dissonance.”
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