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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80<br />

Country-Specific Information<br />

—<br />


—<br />

Morocco’s mobility channels are determ<strong>in</strong>ed<br />

ma<strong>in</strong>ly by its geographic position<strong>in</strong>g <strong>and</strong> diplomatic<br />

ties. At the <strong>North</strong>-West corner of <strong>Africa</strong>,<br />

Morocco is at the juncture of <strong>North</strong> <strong>Africa</strong> <strong>and</strong><br />

West <strong>Africa</strong>, <strong>and</strong> at the doors of Europe.<br />

Until recently, it was Europe that drew<br />

Moroccan artists most eagerly, especially neighbour<strong>in</strong>g<br />

Spa<strong>in</strong>, for its geographical proximity<br />

<strong>and</strong> historical ties, <strong>and</strong> France, which reta<strong>in</strong>s an<br />

important place <strong>in</strong> Moroccan society. However,<br />

the drastic restrictions placed on visas for Moroccan<br />

citizens have reconfigured young Moroccans’<br />

travel perspectives. In t<strong>and</strong>em with the<br />

clos<strong>in</strong>g of Europe, the Arab Spr<strong>in</strong>g has brought<br />

a refreshed sense of solidarity <strong>and</strong> curiosity toward<br />

other countries <strong>in</strong> the Maghreb <strong>and</strong> Arab<br />

world. Respondents reported that the desire to<br />

travel East <strong>and</strong> South is gett<strong>in</strong>g as strong, if not<br />

stronger, than the typical desire to travel <strong>North</strong>.<br />

In <strong>North</strong> <strong>Africa</strong>, exchange with Tunisia<br />

is most active, facilitated by visa-free travel<br />

between the two countries <strong>and</strong> the wealth of<br />

cultural activity <strong>in</strong> both. Ties with Algeria are<br />

more complex due to the closed border <strong>and</strong><br />

high cost of air travel. Several respondents expressed<br />

frustration <strong>in</strong> this regard. Morocco has<br />

close ties to West <strong>Africa</strong>, especially Senegal but<br />

also Mauritania, Côte d’Ivoire, Burk<strong>in</strong>a Faso <strong>and</strong><br />

Niger. These connections have been explored<br />

by practitioners <strong>in</strong> all fields, most prom<strong>in</strong>ently<br />

<strong>in</strong> music, where Gnawa music has <strong>in</strong>spired a<br />

wealth of musical exchanges <strong>and</strong> festivals across<br />

borders. Essaouira’s Gnawa Music Festival is<br />

one of the major events on the music calendar.<br />

One of the most significant developments<br />

<strong>in</strong> mobility to / from Morocco is the extensive development<br />

of Royal Air Maroc’s network <strong>in</strong> recent<br />

years, with a hub <strong>in</strong> Casablanca. The company<br />

is now second only to Ethiopian Airl<strong>in</strong>es <strong>in</strong> terms<br />

of coverage on the cont<strong>in</strong>ent <strong>and</strong> is pois<strong>in</strong>g itself<br />

for greater growth, <strong>in</strong> l<strong>in</strong>e with Morocco’s policy<br />

of economic overtures to <strong>Africa</strong>.<br />

—<br />

M<br />

O<br />

R<br />

O<br />

C<br />

C<br />

O<br />

—<br />

—<br />

QUOTE:<br />

« It’s time to turn our eyes from<br />

Europe to <strong>Africa</strong>. We learn from Europe,<br />

but we learn more from <strong>Africa</strong>.<br />

There’s an attitude that seems to<br />

say “We know but they don’t.” We<br />

have to see <strong>and</strong> value ourselves<br />

as <strong>Africa</strong>ns. »<br />

Hosni Almoukhlis<br />

Theatre practitioner, founder<br />

<strong>and</strong> artistic director, Théâtre de<br />

l’Opprimé,<br />

Casablanca*<br />

—<br />

—<br />

QUOTE:<br />

« We wondered what had<br />

happened to the question of the<br />

Greater Maghreb, which seemed<br />

to have somewhat disappeared,<br />

which was raised <strong>in</strong> the 1990s<br />

but stayed more or less on paper<br />

without be<strong>in</strong>g reactivated. We<br />

wondered how culture could<br />

compensate for the lacks that are<br />

part of today’s reality. »<br />

Laila Hida<br />

Photographer, co-founder,<br />

Le18 derb el ferrane,<br />

Marrakech*<br />

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