Sunday, June 30, 2013

Artists Respond: Exhibition and Performance in Fez

The View From Fez correspondent Vanessa Bonnin's photographs feature in an exhibition and performance event AiR Sidi Ali - Artists Respond, opening on Tuesday July 2 at the French Institute

In January this year, during a week long artists' residency with four other artists, photojournalist Vanessa Bonnin explored the religious Moussem celebrating the Prophet's birthday at the town of Sidi Ali near Meknes. Taken during a Gnaoua lilla, her photographs hint at the mystical and sensual side of the ceremony.

"At Sidi Ali I met a chaufa, a woman who tells fortunes, who invited us to this Gnaoua lilla. Although I was allowed to take photos, there were also restrictions such as respecting people's identities, so I did an artistic rather than literal interpretation.

"The whole artists' residency was so intense it took a really long time to be able to process it. It feels like the residency continued beyond that week and the exhibition is the culmination."

An Australian photojournalist, Vanessa completed a degree in journalism and photography at Perth's Curtin University. After graduation she worked on the Melbourne newspaper The Leader for three and a half years. Her alter ego is as the host of one of Fez's top restaurants and boutique hotels, Dar Roumana.

Musicians in Sidi Ali before a performance 
The AiR Sidi Ali - Artists Respond residency was run by artist Jess Stephens from Culture Vultures, who will be exhibiting several of her own works and a series of adornments inspired by the rituals and music-based ceremonies at the Moussem.

The other artists include Hollis Bennett, a photographer from Texas, US, whose work focuses on small groups of people. "He shows their individual intricacies and how they fit into society by standing apart," says Jess.

Rene Kladzyk, a multidisciplinary artist based in Brooklyn, New York, will do a solo performance, CROWNWORC, using sound and movement. It is inspired by the practices of possession and trance at the Moussem.

A video installation by Fez based contemporary dancer, Camelia Hakim, calls on her research into Gnaoua ceremonies.

The AiR Sidi Ali event will be in two parts - an exhibition which opens on Tuesday July 2 at 6.30 PM and runs until August 31, and the performance by Rene Kladzyk at Dar Batha in the Fez Medina at 8 PM.

This year Jess Stephens plans to run the residency again and artists are invited to apply until September 1. For info, CLICK HERE. 

When: Exhibition opens Tuesday July 2 at 6.30 PM and runs until August 31. Performance on Tuesday at 8 PM. 
Where: Exhibition is on at the French Institute Gallery in the Ville Nouvelle, and the performance is on at Dar Batha. 

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