Atop a hill in Carthage, one of the finest locations in the Tunis area, stands a villa that belonged to the Trabelsi – the family of former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s wife. Ben Ali’s nepotism – particularly toward the Trabelsi clan – had been the primary cause for his downfall. During the revolution, the villa was ransacked and covered in political graffiti. As these four young secular women explore this microcosm of Tunisia today, they are not identifiable as members of a particular ethnicity or religion, but rather as belonging to a diffuse Mediterranean civilization. Save, perhaps, for the falcons, which are particularly prized in the Arab world, they could be French, Italian or Greek. Yet, unlike young women on the Northern shores of the Mediterranean, they can't take their place in society for granted. Their presence in the Trabelsi villa sheds light on difficult years past, the uncertainties of the present, and their hopes for a brighter future.
Marc Erwin Babej is a fine art and documentary photographer who works exclusively in black-and-white. Born in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1970, he received a B.A. in history from Brown University and an M.Sc. from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Marc’s background in social sciences, marketing strategy, media and entertainment pervades his photographic work. Uneasy coexistences are a predominant theme: his images surface inner conflicts and, in so doing, expose seemingly contradictory beliefs. Conflict is a key means of representation – a stance that embraces the viewer with one arm, while holding him at a distance with the other. Marc’s image-making method calls for intensive collaboration with cast members. Members of his still-image film ensemble Mercury Theatre, feature in a variety of roles across the work. Marc’s work is published regularly – both in general media and in international art publications. He also writes a column about luminaries in art and documentary photography for Der Spiegel and American Photo.