Casablanca - Achraf Baznani is a self-taught, Marrakech-born photographer and artist. He received international recognition by winning a number of prizes in Morocco, Italy, Switzerland, Australia and elsewhere. He also featured in a number of prominent international magazines, such as The Times, National Geographic, the Spanish Mambo, and the Korean Photoplus.
Casablanca – Achraf Baznani is a self-taught, Marrakech-born photographer and artist. He received international recognition by winning a number of prizes in Morocco, Italy, Switzerland, Australia and elsewhere. He also featured in a number of prominent international magazines, such as The Times, National Geographic, the Spanish Mambo, and the Korean Photoplus.
Moroccan-French news website, Le Desk shared an article on September 11 titled “Achraf Baznani: Le Mauvais génie plagiaire de la photographie” (Achraf Baznani: The Evil Genius Plagiarist of Photography). The article accused Baznani of copying the work of Canadian artist Joel Robison. Le Desk, whose Facebook fan page had been blocked for 18 hours, also held him responsible for the block.
Morocco World News contacted the artist for more information on the issue.
MWN: Le Desk says that you ignored their request for an interview when the subject of Joel Robison was brought up. How do you respond to that?
Achraf Baznani: I will tell you the story from the beginning. I received a call from a female journalist when I was overseas. I promised to get in touch with her later on. I didn’t have regular access to the internet in the country that I was in and my schedule was also very busy.
When I came back to Morocco, I was shocked to see Le Desk’s article. I don’t know what they based their judgment on, especially considering the journalist in question is not an arts reviewer.
MWN: In what ways can you invalidate the allegations that you copied the work of others?
Achraf Baznani: There are many ways in which I can prove the authenticity of my work. First of all, like I previously said, the journalist lacks background in arts that would enable her to judge the quality of my work.
The artistic trend I contribute to is called surreal photography, and it began toward the second half of the previous century. If you search for surrealist photos, you’d see that many artistic works look to the untrained eye as reproductions of each other. Only judges sometimes can tell the difference.
To say that I plagiarized the work of another artist is to say that I have fooled the judges that have awarded me with my various titles. That’s impossible because commissions of internationally renowned professionals who employ meticulous criteria in their assessment are the ones to administer these international contests I participated in. Sometimes they ask the artists to submit the original ‘draft’ of the photos, and I have submitted mine several times. Therefore, it is absurd to think that these professionals could not detect plagiarism when a journalist with no training in art could
The same thing applies to the international expositions I participated in and the prominent magazines I was featured in such as National Geographic, The Times, Shooters, Mambo in Spain, Photoplus in Korea, and so on. The photos that these professional magazines share submit to strict assessment criteria before selection.
I do my work with my own hands; I create stories where I am the hero. I have created between 450 and 500 surrealist photos, and I have obtained international awards for many of them, like Into the Abyss, and My Small World.
MWN: The CEO of LeDesk says that you signaled the news website’s Facebook fan page, and Facebook subsequently blocked the page.
Achraf Baznani: The lady in question and other individuals from the same news source have insulted me openly and accused me of plagiarism. Although the claims are too huge that they require a judicial process to intervene, I abstained from responding and I certainly did not signal the page
I guess Facebook necessitates many people to signal a specific page before it decides to take it off. I cannot do it all by myself, especially becasue I am extremely busy. I did not even report those who attacked me personally and the proof is on their Facebook profiles.
MWN: How do you feel about this experience with LeDesk’s accusations?
Achraf Baznani: I have not lost any fans on my Facebook fan page. Many people have sympathized with me after they have understood the predicament that I have been put in. However, I feel a great deal of injustice since the news website, and many others did not cover my successes, nor did they talk about my achievements. It is quite sad that I’m celebrated by international media, and demeaned by some Moroccan websites.