Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on LinkedInEmail this to someone

Artist 2Fik’s work exudes the jigsaw of cultures that makes up his “lost in translation” existence. Born in France, but raised by Moroccan parents, 2Fik spent his teenage years in Morocco, but then moved to Montreal, where he currently resides. In his art, he highlights identity, immigration, integration and feminism.

His first encounter with culture shock was when he visited Morocco for the first time when he was 8 years old.

“I didn’t get the language, didn’t get the way people interacted,” he said.

“A cultural shock is feeling lost in translation: you are not able to understand the basics of the communication and everything around is then full of doubts.”

Though the experience of being lost and misunderstood was utterly daunting, he explained that when one embraces the vulnerability, it is actually enjoyable. But, however agreeable, 2Fik consistently felt like an outsider.

“In France, people called me The Arab. In Morocco, they called me The French. Wherever I was, I wasn’t seen as a local, full participant of the society. My accent was an issue, just like my non-verbal communication was another.”

2Fik - La Grande Intendante [The Great Maiden]

2Fik – La Grande Intendante [The Great Maiden]

Another facet that brought him to feel different was growing up gay.

“I discovered the word “gay” when I was 16, in France. Before that, I lived in Casablanca were I had my first man on man encounters that felt for me totally natural and simple, although discretion was a must and didn’t overly complicated to achieve.”

This juxtaposition in his identity with what was considered “normal” has translated into his art, where each detail mirrors his experiences.

“I think of a situation and will imagine everything, including the smallest details to make my scene look like I planned it. Usually, a well-thought prop used in the right scene can create a great artwork.”

Through his work, he strives to break through labels that often he is associated with such as, “the Arab, the Gay, the Muslim, the Extravagant, the Queer.”

Even his name stands to oppose the standard. His real name is Toufik, but he has altered it to 2Fik, a “twisted, less understandable” depiction in order to cause others to “feel lost in translation.”

He explained that his work is not known in Morocco and not publicized frequently in France due to its complexity.

“My thinking and creative process is definitely North-American, making my work more complicated to understand, see and assimilate for French or Moroccan people.”

2Fik - Le dŽjeuner sur l'herbe  [The breakfast on the Grass]

2Fik – Le dŽjeuner sur l’herbe [The breakfast on the Grass]

Accordingly, he feels most understood in Montreal and New York City, where his work resonates.

“Those two cities seem to get my vision, my critical views, and my dark sense of humor regarding identity, integration and equality.”

2Fik chose Montreal as it was the furthest francophone and bilingual location from Paris. He wanted to get as far away as he possibly could, but maintain a connection with the French language.

Yet, every year he travels back to France to visit his immediate family; and once every three or four years to Morocco to see his extended family.

With a background of being misunderstood, jumping from country to country, 2Fik found himself when he realized that feeling at home means being comfortable with himself.

“Recognizing your limitations, your fears, your needs, and putting words and images on them gives you sense of self. I am a mix of three cultures and three languages. My Canadian culture is as important as my Moroccan culture, even if it has nothing to do with my roots. I create my own roots, my own identity and foundations.”