By Aine Marsland
By Aine Marsland
Marrakech – The Biennale 2016 is upon us, its title this year is “Not New Now.”
It promises to show us a wide variety of Afro-Arab cultural partnerships. This year it is curated by Reem Fadda from the Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi where she is Associate Director of Middle Eastern Art. Another difference from previous years is the multidisciplinary approach and wide reaching education programs for children. The program is vast and can be downloaded from the MB6 website (link above). It’s a fantastic opportunity to view and meet original artists and introduce their work to thousands over the duration of the Biennale. I am positive, as in previous years, it will draw art lovers and collectors from across the world to appreciate Moroccan art at its finest.
Let’s remember the last biennale, starting with some of my favorites. Artist Eric van Hove from Belgium, living in Morocco, created a full scale model of a V12 car engine using Moroccan artists and materials. Imagine how fabulous it was containing cedar, lemon, orange and ebony woods, cooper, nickel, silver, metals and minerals from places as far as coastal Agadir to desert Ouarzazate. He is a featured artist again this year and I’m looking forward to seeing what he will produce. His last project had approximately 50 artists working on it, a big contribution to local artistic life in Marrakech.
MB6 makes use of a lot of the famous landmarks and palaces in Marrakech. This was the 2014 welcome art signage from Hicham Benohoud, an established Marrakechi artist whose art has been exhibited in the UK, France, Germany, and New York. Whenever we entered the Square or went to the exhibits in Bank al Magreb or just wandered around the centre, this work was always there to greet us and remind us of how welcoming Marrakech is.
This year, the itinerary features a large number of Moroccan artists such as Fatiha Zemmouri, a visual artist from Casablanca. She has had a number of exhibits featuring beautiful, organic work using natural materials and transforming them into another form, “spiritual transmutation,” “inviting you to go on your own existential quest,” as her website describes.
Another well known artist, Yio Barrada, works with different mediums of print, film, and sculpture. You should read about her wide variety of work on her website.
We now have the trinity of the most famous artists. Farid Belkahia, whose career spans decades as one of the most modern artists in Morocco, is also featured. I’m very curious to see what he will be presenting to us. Equally noteworthy is Mohamed Cheba, another leader of art in Morocco. With Belkahia and Mohammed Melehi, the trinity promoted a Moroccan identity within art and I am personally an admirer of their work. It’s going to be very exciting to see what they are working on at the Biennale. All these great artists are represented by www.loftartgallery.net.
Two young artists, Adrian Villar Rojas and Sara Ouhaddou, caught my eye. Sara is a designer working on the collaborative project, MadinMedin, where she is exploring the transmission of artists knowledge, normally taught by master to apprentice, and how tourism has affected their perception of genuine quality versus tourism quantity. You can read the full project details on www.saraouhaddou.com
I think this could be one of the most interesting Biennales on record. This year is certainly more African based than previous years and I sense more experimental than traditionally based mediums within the art. There is a constant program of street entertainment and much more effort is certainly being made to involve the local population.