Art Moves Africa – Retracing Roots and Tracing New Routes: Mobility and Touring in North Africa

A study by Lara Bourdin for Art Moves Africa, October 2019

A study by Lara Bourdin for Art Moves Africa, October 2019

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49<br />

Country-Specific Information<br />

The strongest trends of <strong>in</strong>ternational<br />

exchange are with neighbour<strong>in</strong>g Morocco <strong>and</strong><br />

Tunisia. These trends are due to freedom of<br />

movement with<strong>in</strong> the Greater Maghreb <strong>and</strong> historic<br />

cultural <strong>and</strong> l<strong>in</strong>guistic ties, which facilitate<br />

<strong>in</strong>formation-shar<strong>in</strong>g <strong>and</strong> network<strong>in</strong>g. Road travel<br />

is possible between Algeria <strong>and</strong> Tunisia but<br />

not between Morocco <strong>and</strong> Algeria, the border<br />

rema<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g closed after decades of conflict over<br />

the issue of Western Sahara. Many <strong>in</strong>terviewees<br />

have expressed frustration at this limitation,<br />

which forces artists to travel by air (at a greater<br />

f<strong>in</strong>ancial cost) <strong>and</strong>, on a deeper level, can restrict<br />

their capacity to envision common projects.<br />

Today, travel to other <strong>Africa</strong>n regions goes<br />

ma<strong>in</strong>ly via Casablanca. Until the RAM began<br />

exp<strong>and</strong><strong>in</strong>g its network, travel was necessarily<br />

via Paris. AirAlgérie has been develop<strong>in</strong>g its<br />

network, with new l<strong>in</strong>es created to several West<br />

<strong>Africa</strong>n dest<strong>in</strong>ations. Anecdotal reports suggest<br />

that AirAlgérie would like to rival RAM as a carrier<br />

towards the cont<strong>in</strong>ent, <strong>in</strong> l<strong>in</strong>e with Algeria’s shift<br />

towards encourag<strong>in</strong>g tourism <strong>and</strong> stimulat<strong>in</strong>g<br />

connections with <strong>Africa</strong>.<br />

Desire to create <strong>in</strong>ternational bridges is<br />

very strong. In the visual arts, it is nourished <strong>in</strong><br />

large measure by the visibility <strong>and</strong> prestige of<br />

major <strong>in</strong>ternational events such as the Biennale<br />

de Dakar (mentioned by almost all respondents).<br />

In music, a number of groups such as Ifrikya<br />

<strong>and</strong> Democratoz have foregrounded the <strong>Africa</strong>n<br />

musical roots of Algeria, creat<strong>in</strong>g popular consciousness<br />

of an <strong>Africa</strong>n identity <strong>and</strong> a strong<br />

desire to develop greater exchange.<br />

—<br />

QUOTE:<br />

—<br />

A<br />

L<br />

G<br />

E<br />

R<br />

I<br />

A<br />

—<br />

« S<strong>in</strong>ce the borders are closed on almost<br />

all sides, except with Tunisia, a l<strong>in</strong>k has<br />

formed between <strong>North</strong> Algeria <strong>and</strong> the South.<br />

Algerians from the <strong>North</strong> have started to<br />

discover the South <strong>and</strong> <strong>in</strong> so do<strong>in</strong>g, <strong>Africa</strong>. »<br />

Houari Bouchenak<br />

Photographer, Collectif 220,<br />

Algiers / Tlemcen*<br />

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