Ibn Ibn Battuta's Instagram Favorites: Algeria Edition

Thursday, June 21, 2018 | Algiers, Algeria

Algeria Edition: Featured photos from @vintagealgeria, @amine_ounas, @shadxxws, @toumache, @rananouille, @med_ab_dz, @amar_mehaya, @hosni_hannoun, and @nomads_of_algeria. By @ibnibnbattuta.
This is the third post in my "Instagram Favorites" series. See the previous posts here: "Global Edition" and "Middle East & North Africa Edition". For information on my selection criteria, see "Intro".

Algeria, North Africa's sleeping giant, is home to some incredibly talented—and unknown—young photographers. While styles vary, there is an emerging class of contemporary artists that, far from shying away from Algeria's ever-present grittiness, embrace it and place it at the very center of their work. The peeling paint, trash-filled alleys, and graffiti-clad ruins that form the backdrop for an ever-growing majority of daily scenes in Algeria's cities and towns become the focus as much as those scenes themselves. Black and white is the favored medium and post-processing is heavy, with contrast jacked way up to highlight gritty textures. (The talented members of the Collective 220 are at the forefront of this movement.)

But in Algeria, as elsewhere, the most talented photographers aren't necessarily the ones behind the best Instagram accounts.

Today's best Algerian photographers overlap with a second group, composed of hardcore enthusiasts. These Instagrammers trend young and are still experimenting, mimicking their peers and idols, and donning and shedding new styles from week to week. They tend to be far too enamored with Adobe LightRoom, favoring an unnatural HDR-heavy aesthetic that isn't my favorite. But they are undeniably expanding the platform, driving usage up in a country where internet penetration is low (even by the standards of the region) but growing fast, where Facebook still dominates the social media landscape, and where photography itself is an exercise fraught with social obstacles.

Algeria's presence on Instagram is still evolving, and hasn't yet matured to the standard of many other countries in the region. Few accounts here can yet compete with the rigorous curation, professional style, or consistent quality of those I shared in my Middle East & North Africa or Global lists, but I expect that will come in time. Here are some of my current favorites, which are certainly well worth following for an inside glimpse into this relatively unknown country. Enjoy:

Aggregator Accounts:

1. @visualalgeria: Though not the most popular, this is the aggregator account with the most consistently high-quality selection of photographs from across Algeria, managed by Amine Ounas. #VisualAlgeria


2. @vintagealgeria: What better tribute to a country so firmly anchored in its history, than an account highlighting historic moments, vintage family portraits, and retro scenes from yesteryear? A true pleasure to follow.


3. @unlimitedalgeria: Another nice account showcasing a diverse range of photographers and subjects throughout the country. #UnlimitedAlgeria


4. @nomads_of_algeria: An enjoyable aggregator highlighting young photographic talent with shots from the Sahara to the Mediterranean and everywhere in between. #NomadsDZ


5. @thecasbahpost: The Instagram account of this e-zine, founded in 2015, is as thoughtfully composed as the publication itself, offering great snapshots of contemporary Algerian culture.


6. @la7_youtes: This account (meaning "the walls" in Arabic) catalogs graffiti, wall art, and other public scrawls from across Algeria. Always a pleasure (or a puzzle) to decipher.


7. @algeriandestinations: More diverse shots from talented Algerian photographers. #VisitAlgeria


7. @topalgeriaphoto: A mix of users' shots from across Algeria. #TopAlgeriaPhoto


Individual Accounts:

1. @med_ab_dz: When he's not editing the city's best guidebook (@guide_alger), Abdelmoumene shoots crisp, atmospheric shots of Algiers and of destinations across Algeria.


2. @toumache: Has anyone claimed the title of "King of the Sahara" yet? If not, I nominate Yacine Toumache, Algeria's most passionate and skilled desert photographer.


3. @rananouille: A whimsical, nostalgic collage of closeups, drawings, and intimate portraits by a talented young Algerian artist.


4. @algerievuedenbas: Ahmed and Anissa's collaborative account started as a simple riff on Yann Arthus-Bertrand's arresting 2014 documentary "Algérie Vue du Ciel" but its micro-level focus on Algeria's daily life and its characters quickly earned the pair a well-deserved following of their own.


5. @shadxxws: Another young talent finding great angles in her native Algiers.


6. @moul.eldjellaba: Opaque yet intriguing, spiritual yet aloof, mysterious yet also vaguely creepy... What place does that remind you of? The man in the djellaba (North African cloak) is an enigma—and an entertaining one to follow.


7. @sahraoui_mohamed_: Smart black-and-white portraits with feeling.


8. @malekbelahsene: The artist behind what is probably the best photograph of Algeria taken so far in the 21st century doesn't have to prove his talents. And at 24 years old, he's still got plenty of time to raise the bar even higher.


9. @hosni_hannoun: Hailing from the eastern pole of Constantine, Hosni shares beautiful double exposures, portraits, and serene landscapes from his travels across Algeria.


10. @siham_rt: Crisp, bleached shots from a talented minimalist.


11. @tsawerproject: Wait, I'm not the only person shooting film in Algeria?! Ahlem has an impressive collection of analog shots from Algiers, Oran, and beyond. This place just looks better on film.


12. @amar_mehaya: Amar exemplifies the talent and experimental style of many young Algerian photographers today, sharing nice portraits and ambient scenes from big cities and small villages alike.


13. @riadh_berka: A talented photographer with a passion for his home country and great shots from Algiers, the Sahara, and beyond.


14. @amine_ounas: A wide range of images from this intriguing photographer.


15. @boucif_mahdi: Studious observers can learn much from Mahdi's portraits of wisened faces and daily scenes, or as he describes them, "rien d'intĂ©ressant"—nothing interesting.


Finally, honorable mentions for the best handle go to @weshbik, @algerina_jolie, and @dolcewabanana. (The last one is especially worth keeping an eye on in the future!)

I hope you enjoyed this list. Stay tuned in the coming days for my picks from the Film Photography category! And don't forget to follow me on Instagram at @ibnbnbattuta.

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