Karim El Maktafi


I was born in Desenzano del Garda, in Italy, to Moroccan parents. Despite having attended Italian schools, during my childhood I also received a Moroccan education, as my family passed on to me lessons related to the traditions of our country of origin. My friends are mostly Italian, I have the typical northern Italian accent, outside my home I have always frequented places and people who have strengthened my identity as an Italian citizen, which I became, on paper, at the age of fourteen. And yet in the eyes of many I am a foreigner. A few years ago, I started a photographic research project that reflects on and asks questions about the identity of members of the second generation: the children of immigrants born and raised in Italy. I started from my story, trying to investigate my experience, but now I also want to hear the voices of those who, like me, live between two worlds. I started by meeting some second-generation youngsters in the city where I currently live, Milan. In a historical moment in which the discussion on the Ius Soli (citizenship based on country of birth) seems to have been put on hold by the Italian political agenda, I want to show the life of those who have to come to terms with the absence of this law every day and the lucky few who manage to obtain citizenship, but only at the age of 18. Telling the story of the second generation means trying to understand the problems related to identity, and the difficulties that can arise between the family and the host culture. What is this generation’s vision of the future, of love, friends and school? It is not easy to give an answer, but I believe that their stories and a visual investigation of their/our present, can provide an honest image of those who, even amid difficulties and contradictions, have every right to be considered Italian citizens.


Karim El Maktafi is an Italian-Moroccan photographer who was born in Desenzano del Garda (Italy) in 1992. In 2013 he graduated from the Italian Institute of Photography in Milan, while in 2016 he obtained a one-year scholarship at Fabrica, Benetton's communication research centre in Treviso. During his residency, Karim created the "Hayati" project: this was the winner of the PhMuseum 2017 grant - New Generation Prize, was a finalist for the CAP Prize 2017 (Contemporary African Photography Prize) and took second prize at the Kassel Dummy Award 2018. Between 2017 and 2018 he had a mentorship with the American photographer Maggie Steber (VII Agency), who followed him in the development of various projects. In 2018 he received a Magnum Photos scholarship, together with Alex Majoli. Karim works on long-term projects in Italy and Morocco and his photographic research explores the concept of identity and belonging through documentary and portrait photography. His work has been exhibited at La Triennale Museum in Milan, the Museum in Der Kulturbrauerei in Berlin, the Pavillon Populaire in Montpellier, the Macro Testaccio Museum in Rome and in assorted photography festivals in Europe. His work has also appeared in numerous publications, including The Washington Post Magazine, National Geographic USA, Internazionale, Vice, GEO and Vogue.

Karim El Maktafi