Curatorial concept announced for 2016 Marrakech Biennale

Abu Ali Al-’Arbini, Yaseen Al-Bushy, and Khaled Malas, Windmill in Eastern Ghouta, 2014.

Abu Ali Al-’Arbini, Yaseen Al-Bushy, and Khaled Malas, Windmill in Eastern Ghouta, 2014.

Not New Now

24 February–8 May 2016

Curated by Reem Fadda, the 6th edition of the Marrakech Biennale announces its curatorial concept.

Abstraction / Action art / Africa / Arab world / Civic Awareness / Cultural Resistance / Decolonization / Defeat / Ecology / Folklore / Incendiarism/ Intangibility / Junk art / Materiality / Minimalism / New / Now / Play / Purpose / Recycling / Responsibility / Responsiveness / Survival Technologies / Urgency 

How do we surpass the cultural orientation towards newness? That same culture inherited from the modern ideal which, in pursuing advancement, has caused for hollow consumption; the postmodern order recycling the past and packaging it in the mere service of “progress.” Then, is the search for the New, with its inherent aspirations for discovery and truth, a mere escapism? Can we simply reject the New?

We are caught in a temporal ping pong, oscillating between future and past while seemingly disregarding the present. For if the New, as a cultural and material trope, is bound to the future, and history is anchored to the past, how and when are we left to emphasize the Now? The surmounting political urgencies, the tremors of earth—that growing wasteland, the vestiges of materials, bones, and boats in shores and art alike—the calls for responsibility and ecology—could all be heard beckoning for this shift of time focus? This is the time for a heightened civic awareness, focusing on action and responsiveness.

Marrakech is Africa and the Arab world, throbbing all at once. The city lends itself as a site, bare of white walls, to look at art from within the larger continent. Through the biennale, we will examine how art is used formally as a means for cultural resistance, and how ideas ranging from abstraction and minimalism to recycling, junk art, and creative survival technologies are becoming pervasive from past present experiences that occurred there. The biennale looks at the legacies of decolonization, in addition to its failures, as one of the origins that has inspired contemporary art to embrace incendiarism, criticality and radicalism. The biennale’s premise also builds on the intangible, a longstanding history of Pan Afro-Arab & Afro-Asian unity, through critically investigating socio-political projects, cultural partnerships, intellectual provocations, and art movements that have led to many shared artistic tendencies.

Public heritage sites of Marrakech, such as Palais El Badi and Palais Bahia, will witness a variety of works, from installations to site-specific commissions, by a group of international artists, focusing on Africa, the Arab world, and its diasporas. Performances, exhibitions of archives, film programs, seminars, lectures, and conferences will provide for an art structure that looks at and interrogates these cultural commonalities and interlaced relationships.

The Marrakech Biennale 6 will consist of the main exhibition curated by Reem Fadda and assistant curator Ilaria Conti. It will also include interjections by collaborating curators Omar Berrada, Salma Lahlou and Fatima-Zahra Lakrissa. Simultaneously, a selection of Partner and Parallel Projects will also be on view across various parts of the city.

Read more about Marrakech Biennale