DESTINATION AFRICA: VISUAL ARTS IN POSTCOLONIAL MOROCCO BETWEEN CONNECTION AND DISRUPTION. THE CASE OF MARRAKECH
(University of Milan-Bicocca)
Paper short abstract:
My paper will explore, from an anthropological point of view, the rise of a new "art world" in postcolonial Morocco and its relation with "Africanity" by focusing on Marrakech's emerging artistic scene, increasingly connected to the floating and controversial concept of "African contemporary art".
Paper long abstract:
The "Red City" has been seducing and inspiring artists for centuries, but only in the last few years it is becoming a key hub for contemporary African art and its growing global market. Since 2017, it hosts the renowned African art fair, 1:54 and the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (Macaal). However, the Marrakech's new artistic scene is wider and includes many other foundations, collaborative spaces, curatorial platforms, artists' studios, galleries, etc., which are making their mark locally as well as attracting international audiences. As French anthropologist Jean-Loup Amselle pointed out, African contemporary art is a strategic site of encounter (and misunderstanding) between Africa and the West. However, rather than putting contemporary African art only in relation to Western views, I will try to "provincialize Europe", by taking "an African perspective" and by focusing on intra-continental artistic and cultural interactions. Marrakesh's cultural scene, therefore, gives us the opportunity not only to explore the rise of new art worlds in the "Global South" but also to critically interrogate Morocco's "African identity" and to considerate some crucial local/global questions (such as "race", the legacy of slavery, migration) through the lens of visual expressive culture. How do local art practitioners deal with these topics? What does it mean to be a "contemporary African artist" in postcolonial Morocco? What is the relation between "Africanity" and Moroccan contemporary visual culture? How is Marrakech's local scene connected to other continental and global "art worlds"?
Connections and disruptions: African contemporary expressive culture in the global context