Thursday, June 19, 2014

Stitched Shut ~ Contemporary Photography at the Fes Festival

A wonderful exhibition of contemporary photography is currently on display in a medina house that is a work of art in itself. You have two more days to see it so try to fit a little art in amongst your concert schedules!

Ute Schrader and Nathalie Locatell

A collaboration between Ute Schrader and Nathalie Locatelli (owner of Galerie 127 in Marrakech), this exhibition is hopefully the first of many to be held in Schrader’s home. She would like to create an art space that allows a focus on the integration of contemporary art in an inhabited space in the heart of Fes Medina.

At the opening last Friday, it was evident that this concept has already been translated successfully into the space. Over several floors, the photographs have been carefully placed in such a way that gives new meaning and emphasis to their content.

portrait photographs by Denis Dailleux (France/Cairo)

For example, a stunning collection of portrait photographs by Denis Dailleux (France/Cairo), shows Egyptian men with their mothers. This touching series is given extra depth by being shown in the intimacy of a traditional medina home – the privacy of the setting adds to the feeling of being given a glimpse into these very private familial relationships. Dailleux’s photography appears calm and yet is incredibly demanding.

Photographer: Denis Dailleux (France/Cairo)
Photographs by Carolle Benitah (Casablanca/Marseille)

The placement of the work of Carolle Benitah (Casablanca/Marseille) has also been done with great sensitivity and thought. Her art consists of old family photographs which have been cut and rearranged, using red thread to stitch parts together in an intriguing way. Their placement in a downstairs salon, lit by candles and spotlights, gives a feeling that you are viewing her family portraits on the walls of her own home.

The photographs of Diana Lui (France/Malaysia) are another particularly apt choice for these surroundings. Her large format “intimate/psychological/anthropological” portraits of women in traditional dress sit comfortably within another Moroccan salon. Lui’s silent portraits show the existential urgency of each individual’s existence through the space or objects surrounding them, the intrinsic gestures and physical positioning of the individual within their environment. Therefore the positioning of a large black and white portrait of a woman in a heavy brocade wedding outfit on a wall where shadows and light from a traditional Moroccan lantern fall, adds another intricate layer of decoration to an already stunning image.

The concept of bringing more art to the Fes Medina is already one that should be applauded, however the curatorial skill demonstrated in this exhibition has elevated the concept beyond a mere art exhibition to something quite magical.

Photographer: Carolle Benitah

Stitched Shut is on display until June 21st, from 10.00-14.00 or by appointment at 1 Derb Touil, Fes Medina-Blida. Contact Ute: 06 55 35 74 41 or Nathalie: 06 61 33 99 53.

Text and images: Vanessa Bonnin

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