Street Art: The Urban Canvas of Morocco

By Emily Vega, Photography by Anna Bongardino

RABAT, Morocco — Jammed between a blank wall and a rushing train headed to Casablanca, Zakaria Essadiki, 22, uses his ten seconds of concealment to spray paint his graffiti name: ZED. Unseen and unscathed, he leaves behind his mark and continues around his city reclaiming walls.

Essadiki is a part of a growing community of young Moroccans participating in the urban alternative culture of street art. Although street art has been a thriving genre around the world for over half a century, it has just begun its debut across Morocco.

Read more

Sub-Saharan African migrants in Morocco find hope in art and performance

By Robert Dozier

RABAT, Morocco – Jackie Zappa, is an artist from the Ivory Coast — one of an estimated 30 thousand migrants from Sub Saharan Africa. A painter and sculptor, Zappa says he lived in Tunisia and Algeria but his art was not appreciated in those countries.  Communities of migrant artists, musicians and performers are flourishing in Rabat and Casablanca.

“Morocco is the only place in Africa where I can improve my talent,” said Zappa.

Last year alone, more than one million people migrated to Europe, mostly from Africa and the Middle East, according to the International Organization for Migration. 

Read more

The 2016 Marrakesh Biennale Pays Tribute to Leila Alaoui

MARRAKESH, Morocco–Saad Alami and Othman Zine of the local artist collective the Zbel Manifesto glance through a foggy window, out into the busy streets of Marrakech. Their eyes meet the steadfast gaze of the late French-Moroccan artist Leila Alaoui’s Les Marocains, a series of photographs revealing the diversity of Moroccan communities.

The gaze of Les Marocains that lingers through the rainy nights and sunny afternoons is one that the Zbel Manifesto created as a personal tribute to their lost friend.

Interrupting a wide boulevard of the Gueliz neighborhood, the installation stands upright, alongside the abandoned Art Deco building housing the L’Blassa Gallery.

Read more

Snoopy, A Graduate From Morocco’s Only Circus School

By VICTOR MASSARI

RABAT, Morocco – A tall man clutching a handbag filled with gold fractures of an old brass instrument enters downtown Rabat. His shaggy curls cascade from the back of his baseball cap as he reaches into his bag to pull out metal rings, a voice-looping machine, an iPad, an amplifer, and an endless line of cables. This is Rabat’s own local street performer, Badr “Snoopy” Houtar, 27.

“My mother always said I give life to objects,” said Houtar. “Where some people see just a plastic bag, I see a world of fun.”

Houtar, 27, stopped pursuing a degree in architecture four years ago to enroll in the only circus school in all of Morocco.

Read more

MMP+ and Magnum Photos Celebrate Inaugural Exhibit in Marrakech

MARRAKECH, MOROCCO – Last weekend, the recently-opened Marrakech Museum for Photography and Visual Arts celebrated their inaugural exhibit, “A Portrait of Marrakech,” which is on display at the Badi Palace. The exhibit includes work from 5 Magnum photographers: Abbas Attar, Jim Goldberg, Susan Meiselas, Mark Power and Mikhael Subotsky. They were given less than a week to shoot and none had been to Morocco before.

“Finding themselves lost in translation, the photographers, instead of avoiding barriers, embraced and overcame them, both visually and intellectually,” explains Simon Njami, the exhibit’s curator.

The 5 photographers chosen for this project attacked it from all different angles.

Read more