Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Fez The Sacred ~ Omar Chennafi Exhibition

A wonderful effect of the music festival is the plethora of fringe events it creates, especially in the field of art. Another day, another exhibition opening and this time it was local photographer Omar Chennafi's work on display in the Jnan Sbil gardens.

Entitled Fez the Sacred, the work explores a Fassi's perspective on how his city has changed in a spiritual sense.

"I'm talking about the sacred and how Fes and Fassis have lost their connection with the spaces around them," Chennafi explained. "The connection between the space and people, both of these together create the sacred. I'm trying to translate the invisible through photography."

Sponsored by the American Language Centre and ALIF, the exhibition has an original setting. With black and white photographs attached to a row of palm trees, the uniform placement creates a perfect natural gallery space, allowing passers by to chance upon images while strolling through the gardens. Also beautifully placed are a selection of larger coloured photographs on canvases, mounted on easels and set amongst foliage. Particularly striking was an image of a man's feet, dyed bright fuchsia, positioned behind a spray of pink bougainvillaea, the colours perfectly in harmony.

Another inspiring effect of this exhibition is the breaking down of barriers between the general public and art galleries. By placing art outside, in a non-threatening and non-traditional space it is making art accessible to those who would not normally encounter it. This is typical of Chennafi's work, and harks back to his project Invisible Fes, where he turned medina doors into artworks and displayed images on the streets.

Chennafi is truly a photographer of the people, capturing their beauty and delivering it back to them.

Text and photographs: Vanessa Bonnin

Fez the Sacred is only on display for a further two days (until Wednesday June 18th).

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