By Aine Marsland
By Aine Marsland
Marrakech – After attending the opening ceremony of the 2016 Biennale with the established artists and then going to the hip spot at L.blassa, I returned to the Medina to check out projects featuring artists who love Morocco so much they have chosen to make their life in the city of Marrakech, and with their art housed in Riads especially converted for the duration of the Biennale.
First I visited the solo exhibition of Gordon Davidson at Riad Adore near Dar el Basha. For his exhibition “The Threads of Life,” Gordon has used images referencing scientific research and the use of ‘fractals’ both at the macro and micro levels. These images act as a reminder of our origins and that we are all made of the same “threads of life” whether we are Arab, African, Hispanic, or even Scottish (as is Gordon).
Gordon said that his art patterns “echo the repeated movements and images found in so much Islamic art, but in a less formal and structured way.” He is a classically trained artist from Edinburgh, and his work here is featured on large aluminium modern paintings. I found that the medium of aluminium really explores the richness and depth and intensity of colour in a way not found on canvas. As well as mixed media paintings, he also showed a series of reliefs inspired by Moroccan topography.
Then I went on to KE’CH collective near Riad Larousse, a collective of European and Moroccan artists, and I was blown away by the work of Alia Ali, who people will remember from the previous Biennale and her photojournal “I speak in Image.”
Her series “Cast No Evil” is on display. In the series, she does not give answers, but poses questions within a physical space to reflect on them. She exhibits her portraits in a room entirely enveloped in textiles from Switzerland, Morocco, and other places around the world. It’s here that duality presents itself as the mysterious becomes apparent, restraint becomes freedom, the underneath becomes the above, and illusion becomes reality.
During my conversations with Alia, I was speechless at her passion and intelligence and as she explained about the use of fabric and significance to her during her childhood in Yemen. It brought a depth of understanding that I had completely missed while simply viewing the amazing photographs, which, by the way, are incredible self portraits.
The Swiss and Moroccan-based KE’CH Collective launched their first exhibition, “swap2016 – Laboratoire de la mondialité” at the Marrakech Biennale, featuring a dozen Moroccan and Swiss artists in a cross-cultural laboratory. Swap2016 displays ten pieces of artistic analysis on the dialogue regarding European and North African identity.