By Elena Hart - Tangier
By Elena Hart – Tangier
The French Institute of Tangier will host the 18th Annual International Literary and Arts Salon of Tangier from May 7th to 11th, 2014.
This unique festival, like the mythical city of Tangier, has made a distinct mark on the Moroccan cultural scene, thanks to a daring avant-garde spirit and a willingness to open up a discussion on critical political and social issues.
Each year, writers, artists, philosophers, historians, journalists, and diplomats gather at the Palais des Institutions Italiennes to take a critical look at such topics as human rights and the situation of political prisoners, urbanization and sustainable development, the responsibility of intellectuals, globalization, and the advent of the Digital Age.
The 2014 edition brings into question the “African-ness” of Morocco. The country has maintained centuries-old economic and cultural ties with its neighbors to the south. King Mohammed VI’s recent diplomatic tour of West Africa and the growing investments of Moroccan companies in the region have reinforced these links. Casablanca is emerging as a new economic and financial hub of the continent.
Yet, at the same time, it is difficult to think of Morocco, a country rooted in Arab, Berber, and Jewish traditions, as being African. With this in mind, the Salon aims to shed light on the great cultural and linguistic diversity of Africa(s).
Prominent African writers and thinkers, including Achille Mbembe, Alain Mabanckou, Henri Lopes, and Léonora Miano will participate in round table discussions on: The Challenges of Linguistic Pluralism, The Reappropriation and Teaching of African History, War and Literature, Regional Political Alliances, South-South Economic Solidarities, New Technology and the Spread of Knowledge and Literature, and The Preservation and Promotion of Traditional Music.
As always, a wide variety of art exhibitions, musical concerts, African films, and activities for children (storytelling, music, workshops) will complement the literary program. Among them:
• The exhibition “Stories of skin,” which examines the treatment of skin from traditional arts and crafts such as leather-working to contemporary art. Featuring the works of Farid Belkahia, Hassan Hajjaj, Bernard Rancillac, Myette Fauchère, Degbava and Jacques Do Kokou.
• The video-installation “Crossings” by Leila Alaoui on the experience of African migrants.
• The jazz trio Bekkas-Dramé-Raulin, who blend the musical traditions of their respective countries, Morocco, Burkina Faso, and France.
• The French chamber choir Archipels will present a selection of literary texts set to the music of Dvorak, Mendelssohn, Fauré and others.
• A night of dancing and rumba music with the group Coton d’Afrik.
In order to highlight the diversity of languages spoken in Tangier and in Africa, a number of book readings will be organized in French, Arabic, English, and Spanish. Boston University professor Diana Wylie will notably give a talk entitled, “From ‘Revolution’ to ‘Enchantment’: using art to tell stories about the past.”
The Salon is one of the French Institute’s many initiatives to promote literacy in Morocco. Before, during, and after the festival, the Institute collaborates with local schools and NGOs to organize reading programs for children and adolescents.