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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53<br />

Country-Specific Information<br />

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—<br />

<strong>Mobility</strong> to <strong>and</strong> from Algeria is complicated by<br />

the follow<strong>in</strong>g factors:<br />

Lack of fund<strong>in</strong>g options<br />

· The M<strong>in</strong>istry of Culture has not supported<br />

<strong>in</strong>dependent arts practitioners.<br />

· NGOs must submit detailed reports of fund<strong>in</strong>g<br />

<strong>and</strong> ga<strong>in</strong> government approval before<br />

accept<strong>in</strong>g foreign fund<strong>in</strong>g (risk<strong>in</strong>g f<strong>in</strong>es or<br />

imprisonment). This greatly limits fund<strong>in</strong>g possibilities<br />

for <strong>in</strong>dependent artists. Funds must be<br />

obta<strong>in</strong>ed through circuitous means <strong>in</strong>volv<strong>in</strong>g<br />

friends or partners abroad, or through timeconsum<strong>in</strong>g<br />

<strong>and</strong> potentially fruitless bureaucratic<br />

procedures.<br />

Adm<strong>in</strong>istratively, it’s extremely complicated to<br />

receive money. It’s impossible to buy other currencies.<br />

If it’s a private <strong>in</strong>dividual who sends me<br />

money, it goes through. But if it’s an organization<br />

<strong>–</strong> like a publish<strong>in</strong>g house or an association <strong>–</strong> it goes<br />

through, but only <strong>in</strong> Algerian d<strong>in</strong>ars, which <strong>in</strong>volves<br />

a loss of more than 50% of the orig<strong>in</strong>al sum. <strong>–</strong><br />

Ammar Bourras, photographer, Algiers*<br />

· Moreover, the climate of austerity has limited<br />

fund<strong>in</strong>g possibilities from private sponsors <strong>in</strong><br />

Algeria.<br />

Politics of isolationism<br />

· Algeria has ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong>ed fairly limited foreign<br />

relations, with considerable impact on the arts<br />

sector. Several respondents noted that Algeria<br />

has failed to <strong>in</strong>vest <strong>in</strong> the l<strong>in</strong>k between culture<br />

<strong>and</strong> tourism, for <strong>in</strong>stance, <strong>in</strong> contrast with its<br />

neighbour Morocco.<br />

It’s a l<strong>in</strong>k that’s just terrible between Algeria<br />

<strong>and</strong> other nations. We know there are [physical]<br />

borders, but it seems there are many others<br />

that are <strong>in</strong>visible but very present, <strong>and</strong> that<br />

make it impossible for us to connect to <strong>Africa</strong>. <strong>–</strong><br />

Houari Bouchenak, photographer, Collectif 220,<br />

Algiers / Tlemcen*<br />

· In return, one respondent noted weak will<strong>in</strong>gness<br />

on the part of the <strong>in</strong>ternational community<br />

to reach out <strong>and</strong> create bridges with Algeria.<br />

There is no will to reach out to Algeria <strong>and</strong> underst<strong>and</strong><br />

what is go<strong>in</strong>g on, how can Algeria be<br />

supported. <strong>–</strong> Malik Chaoui, co-project manager,<br />

Groupe de travail sur la politique culturelle en<br />

Algérie, Algiers*<br />

Morocco/Algeria<br />

· Several respondents expressed regret <strong>and</strong><br />

frustration at the difficulty of build<strong>in</strong>g bridges<br />

with their Moroccan neighbours, due to ongo<strong>in</strong>g<br />

territorial disputes between the two states<br />

which have ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong>ed the border closed <strong>and</strong><br />

thus limited connections.<br />

[In terms of travel<strong>in</strong>g], one of the difficulties we<br />

face is with Algeria: it’s absurd <strong>and</strong> anecdotal.<br />

We know about a lot of projects <strong>in</strong> Algeria but<br />

we can’t f<strong>in</strong>d a way to create collaborations<br />

between the two countries. The fact that the<br />

border is closed complicates th<strong>in</strong>gs, <strong>and</strong> flights<br />

are quite expensive. It’s cheaper to go to Berl<strong>in</strong><br />

or Amsterdam than to Algiers. <strong>–</strong> Am<strong>in</strong>a Mourid,<br />

cultural operator, Co-founder, Atelier Kissaria &<br />

Th<strong>in</strong>k Tanger*<br />

Restrictions on civil society, censorship<br />

· Freedom of association has been limited <strong>in</strong><br />

Algeria <strong>and</strong> artistic activity has been closely<br />

monitored. Freedom House rates Algeria as<br />

“not free.”<br />

Algiers is very conservative. There’s a m<strong>in</strong>i-scene,<br />

but it’s not like Tunis. In Algeria, it’s more people<br />

with lots of money who are open<strong>in</strong>g venues. It’s<br />

very small, very local. At the level of the Algerian<br />

authorities, it’s not easy. <strong>–</strong> Hamdi Ryder, DJ,<br />

Downtown Vibes collective, Tunis*<br />

· Restrictions on freedom of movement have<br />

been used as a form of censorship.<br />

Cultural operators are closely monitored. Every<br />

time we’ve prepared to participate <strong>in</strong> an event,<br />

we’ve had lots of trouble at the airport. I have<br />

friends who haven’t been able to leave. They [the<br />

authorities] tell you “please wait,” <strong>and</strong> then they<br />

purposefully make you miss your flight. <strong>–</strong> Myriam<br />

Amroun, cultural project manager, Algiers*<br />

—<br />

A<br />

L<br />

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A<br />

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