Seif Kousmate

1988, Morocco
Nominee - Prix Elysée 2025

Seif Kousmate (MA, 1988) is a visual artist born in Essaouira and living in Tangier, Morocco. In 2014, he quit his career in civil engineering and bought his first camera at 26. As a self-taught artist, he began his photographic journey by exploring documentary photography, with the aim of capturing the diverse realities of marginalization in Africa. His early projects served as a platform for the narratives of post-genocide Rwandan youth, Haratins formerly enslaved in Mauritania, and sub-Saharan migrants in search of a better life in Europe.

In Morocco, Seif Kousmate has been focusing on Boujloud celebrations and documenting life in the Atlas Mountains facing climate change. He is currently working on the series "Waha واحة" and his first monograph, a four-year essay on the oases and the changes they are undergoing. Seif Kousmate’s artistic practice has evolved over the past decade, gradually pushing back the boundaries of photography, at the intersection with contemporary art. His upcoming project will explore representations of masculanity and fatherhood, through video and installation.


Men vs Fathers

“Recently, I have been thinking a lot about fathers. Fathers as figures, fathers as biology, fathers as disease. My recent obsessions do not revolve around pure theory though. They come hand in hand with a new step taken as an adult: engaging for the first time with my partner in serious conversations about having kids. Our own.”

“The reason why I cannot separate my utmost desire for children from theoretical reflections that go beyond the actual logistics of raising children, is my lifelong haunting relationship with my own father. Haunting but sleeping, except for three major moments of my life where it transformed into a crisis. The moment I left home at 18, the moment I got married, and the moment I started thinking about being a father. And the reason why I cannot think about my relationship with my own father without reflecting on humanity is a case study of the broader history of Man, patriarchy and adulthood.”

For this project, delving into old family archives, reflecting on them and physically confronting them with his current feelings is essential to Seif Kousmate’s approach, as they are the sole memory keepers of an early attempt to connect with his father, a connection that could not be sustained. Seif Kousmate will also be using textures, materials and objects from his childhood and linking them to his feelings to create parallels with their evolution and the evolution of his relationship with his father.

Objects and textures from his childhood have always been reminiscent of way more than themselves. In fact, since then, they have stood in for feelings. For this project, Seif Kousmate intends to finally shift his “aversion” to some and tenderness for others by incorporating their development into the project. Through this sensorial approach and by mixing different media, he is reclaiming the environment and memories of his childhood, while renewing his connection to his own father, and creating a new narrative of masculinity and fatherhood.