Monday, June 16, 2014

BEYOND TRADITION: Exploring the ART in Artisan at Fes Festival Fringe

BEYOND TRADITION is the result of Australian textile/installation artist Kim Simon’s Artist in Residence with Culture Vultures

The exhibition is an exploration of familiar components in final pieces that are out of context and go beyond tradition.

“For example, the idea of the mint is to take something from Morocco that is really common and every day and use these raw materials but expand them,” Simon said.

Kim has been in Morocco making with Artisans for the past six weeks; singing, laughing, eating and sharing skills, possibilities and wisdoms.

“I have come to care very much about the people who made them with me,” Simon said.
“I’d eat lunch with them and then we’d throw chunks of wool on the floor and sleep side by side. I have been loved and cared for.”

Her design practice is playful, sitting with raw materials, paraphernalia and exploring; her process for making totally consuming. Kim’s designs are simple and elegant and evoke a sense of wonder and discovery.

For centuries Moroccan Artisans have devoted their hours, weeks, years and lifetimes to perfect the skills and art in the repetition of their making. Kim’s art is also about repetition and to illustrate the amount of work that goes into each piece, she has labeled them thus: Tapestry – 192,000 knots; 8580 Red Leather Knots; 6703 Red Buttons and so forth.

“It’s repetitive work but it’s also quite meditative. And working with products like the local leather is wonderful, it’s alive – there are 16 skins in the leather piece.”

Her pieces also acknowledge the names of those who helped make them, for instance the tapestry has a section where it is knotted, in darija “made by Nadia, Latifa and Kim”.

Rarely straying from traditional styles or personally acknowledged, Kim is humbled by and grateful to all Moroccan Artisans who have been open to straying beyond their tradition and who have contributed to the making of these pieces.

“I sat for two and a half weeks with the ladies who helped to make the tapestry and it was interesting because they are so traditional and I had to persuade them to explore outside the boundaries,” Kim said.

“Initially they were always saying no, you couldn’t do it like that, for instance I wanted the weave of the tapestry to be red but they refused saying it had to be white.
“But in the end they loved it.”

Simon’s said that the Artisans most open to straying beyond tradition were the metalworkers of Seffarine Square.

“They trusted me as an artist and were the only ones open to trying something new. I love this piece as the metal still has the marks of the beats on it, showing what they do, it hasn’t been smoothed out.”

So what will Simon take away from her experience here?

“The beauty of the Moroccan people. Here, people are making everywhere and I’m a maker so I feel at home here. I’ll go home inspired and energized. Enlivened.”

Barry Glick at Kim's opening

Kim wishes to thank the following people for their support, collaboration and assistance during her Culture Vultures Artist in Residence: Jessica, Fatima Zhara, Ahmed, Halil, Brahim, Aziz, Nadia, Latifa, Nissrine, Hafida, Khadija, Amina, Rizlane, Wafa, Amina, Mustapha, Hamid, Mohammed, Maryam, Soukaina, Fatima, Fatima Zhara, Dounia, Naima and Fatiha.

BEYOND TRADITION is on display at the Culture Vulture's pOp uP gallery space on Talaa Kbira, a couple of doors down from Barcelona Cafe, until the end of the Festival.

Kim’s contact details:
In collaboration with:

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