Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Marrakech Biennale 2012

The Marrakech Biennale is biennale of contemporary international culture. On the 29th of February of 2012, Marrakech Biennale launches its fourth edition, Free Thinking Surrender, featuring key figures in literature, film and visual arts. The festival runs until the 4th of March, with public screenings, talks, performances and debates at venues around the city.

Alan Yentob, creative director of the BBC, returns this year as the organizer of the film program, and Omar Berrada with Elizabeth Sheinkman will organize the literature events.

Carson Chan and Nadim Samman
One of the highlights will be Higher Atlas, an exhibition curated by Carson Chan and Nadim Samman (pictured above), will open on March 1st and be on view until June 3rd. The exhibition is a starting point for a series of trips, both virtual and physical; Other worlds begin at one’s feet. This thesis is explored through site-specific art, architectural, musical and textual interventions. A layered context emerges from the particularity of the exhibition experience, articulating the blurred boundaries between historically discrete spheres, and the conjunction of local and global conditions.

 the Théâtre Royal - Photos by Alia Radman
Dispersed among the Théâtre Royal, a building that remains incomplete; the Koutoubia cisterns, which lie beneath the foundations of a previous mosque; the Bank Al-Maghrib building, located on the south side of the perpetually bustling Djemaa el-Fna square; the Cyber Parc Arsat Moulay Abdeslam; and at Dar Al-Ma’mûn foundation, Higher Atlas engages Marrakech by underlining the contemporary relevance of civic, rural and historical sites through the work of international participants. The exhibition, which features work from thirty-seven international artists, architects, writers, musicians and composers including Karthik Pandian, Aleksandra Domanovic, CocoRosie, Jon Nash, Juergen Mayer H and Turner Prize nominated Roger Hiorns. The exhibition seeks to engage in an expansive dialogue with the city.

Co-curator Carson Chan notes: "While trying to curate an exhibition that could become part of a contemporary Moroccan cultural identity, we can also challenge the received methods of biennale making that is routinely practiced elsewhere. Do we have to show art? Why not commission a novel, a symphony, an album or a prayer?"

the Koutoubia cisterns
With each biennial, Marrakech Biennale strives to collaborate with local universities and craftsmen, to build a platform that promotes Marrakech’s position within the international sphere. Through partnerships with African and international voices, the Biennale aims to support a Moroccan cultural identity that is both locally rooted and internationally relevant. Developed for this upcoming edition, the Marrakech Biennale will establish workshops for children lead by local and international cultural practitioners to promote access to contemporary culture for all ages. These three months aim to highlight Morocco as a dynamic hub for current ideas and to establish its continued intellectual involvement on an international stage.

Past participants have included Francis Alys, Yto Barrada, John Boorman, Richard E. Grant, Edmond El Maleh, Tracy Emin, Pieter Hugo, Isaac Julien, Abdellah Karroum, Joseph Kosuth, Julien Schnabel, Zadie Smith, Abdellah Taia.

The History
In 2004 with the rise of global tensions, Vanessa Branson envisioned a cultural festival that would address social issues through the arts, using them as a vehicle for debate and discussion and to build bridges between diverse ideologies. Marrakech Biennale would become a celebration of creativity in a city that has been the focus of artistic exploration for centuries but with limited emphasis on contemporary art.

Beginning in 2005, as a gathering of arts enthusiasts who organised literary events and exhibitions. Marrakech Biennale has grown to become an internationally recognised biennale with a thriving visual arts, film and literature programme. The festival’s role has evolved along with the climate of the times. With today’s events in North Africa, the organisation’s goals could not be more pertinent for the cultural identity of the region. This festival aims to show the outside world that Morocco is an open society that encourages freedom of expression and debate, as well as sponsoring significant and lasting benefits for the area and its inhabitants, socially, economically and culturally.

The Biennale and the British Council
As a leader in the educational and cultural field, the British Council Morocco is one of the major partners of the festival. The British Council is working with the Biennale on an internship programme for students at the Faculty of Letters of University Cadi Ayyad.

Marrakech Biennale and the British Council have created for this edition of the Biennale an internship programme for students in English and French departments at Cadi Ayyad University. The aim is to create intercultural links and exchange between the students and the artists of the Biennale.

During the long period when the Biennale artists have been preparing and creating their work, each artist have each been teamed up with a student-intern who has acted as host for the city as well as in some case, assistants in the actual work of the artist.

The professors of Cadi Ayyad University have supported the students to take the internship one step further, by encouraging them to base their term paper on the Biennale as a way to intellectually process this experience.

The aim of the Internship was to create intercultural exchange through a mutually beneficial internship. A diploma will be issued to the students that have shown dedication to the internship programme and given some of their time to the preparation of the Marrakech Biennale.

Also, a series of arts workshops will pair up to 8 participating artists with 150 girls from a local dorm in a collaborative style to create a dynamic art installation piece to be put on display during the festival.

For more information visit the Biennale Website


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