Identity, feminism, integration and immigration stand as fundamental elements in 2Fik’s work, paralleling his multicultural “lost in translation” existence. Born in France, raised by Moroccan parents with a teenage stint in the country, and now living in Montréal, he presents culture shock, adaptation, multiple identities, and evolution of self in photography, videos, and performance.
“I’ve always seen art as a weapon of massive awareness,” 2Fik told 429Magazine.
“I use my photographs as a medium to sensitize, educate, raise awareness about topics that are complicated, difficult or plain taboo.”
As such, he aspires to break through labels he is often associated including “the Arab, the gay, the Muslim, the extravagant, the queer.”
“Every person is made of thousands of different layers, making her or him, a unique human being. Your experience, beliefs, personality, complexion, features are your own,” he continued.
His name is a representation of pushing boundaries. 2Fik is a “twisted, less understandable” depiction of his real name Toufik; meant to make “people feel lost in translation.”
2Fik began taking photos in 2005 as a means of tackling his boredom. Centered on a number of accessories including the veil, prayer robe, and a wig, the hobby turned into regular visual art practice.
“Images are the most democratic way to reach each and every person …You don’t need education to see an image. You just need eyes,” he said.
Addressing illiteracy, he explained that he is drawn to photography for its ability to “talk” to everyone and generate a reaction.
2Fik strives not to create beautiful imagery, but rather a fake reality that should be questioned. The concept of multiplying in his pieces is set to question the representation of self.
“My work is not automatically narcissistic: my body and face are tools to portrait characters,” 2Fik explained. “It’s not me in the photos—I do not see myself in them.”
And though he has garnered much attention with a number of exhibits in the works, his goal is not to be loved, but rather to express his understanding.
“Art exists to push boundaries, disturb and question, not to make a consensus,” he said. “In that sense, I think I’m on the right track.”
Using contrast, as seen in his favorite piece, “The Great Maiden,” a reinterpretation of “La Grande Odalisque” by Ingres, he aims to move people to question their perceptions of others. In the piece, 2Fik juxtaposes masculinity and femininity—“a big beard versus graceful poses.” He believes that to make a difference, viewpoints must be altered.
Immensely inspired by Nan Goldin’s take on intimacy and gender, and non-verbal communication in public spaces vs. private spaces, 2Fik is constantly seeking new ways to express emotions through his body.
His photography has helped him to deal with his own physical insecurities.
“Understanding that you are vulnerable is what makes you stronger … at the end of the day, being able to see yourself in the mirror and accepting who you are without lying to yourself is the best way to grow and be a better person,” he admitted.
The highlight of his career was during his residency at The Invisible Dog Art Center. He met the First Lady of France, Valérie Trierweiler, who loved his high heels collection.
With several upcoming shows, 2Fik is curious to see how the public responds to his second series, 2Fik’s Museum, after the success of 2Fik Or Not 2Fik. He divulged that he’d most like to see his work where it is least expected: “in the middle of a huge shopping mall, on buses.”
“I love when art goes to people and not people coming to art.”
Though worldly with a broad perspective, 2Fik confessed that he is more of a recluse trying to inspire society with his art; to instill change by showing people something different.
“I’m more of a loner: I fight everyday against misogyny, femophobia, homophobia and transphobia in my own way.”