Art meets at a crossroads in Morocco

Art meets at a crossroads in Morocco
The Marrakech Biennale returns with the theme 'Not New Now', bringing some of the Arab world's leading artists to a city always comfortable with expression, dialogue and fusion.
2 min read
11 February, 2016
Morocco's 'Red City' is host to some of the world's leading artists [Getty]
Morocco is host to some of the world's leading artistic talents once again, as Marrakech Biennale opens its doors for 11 weeks of art, dialogue and discussion.

Started in 2004 by entrepreneur Vanessa Branson, the biennale is into its sixth event, and aims to bring social issues to the surface through the arts.

At the same time organisers hope to celebrate the creativity and dynamism of this corner of North Africa.

This year's event sees a range of installations and photographic exhibitions displayed around the southern Moroccan city of Marrakech, which is free to the public for the first time.

This will be displayed at some of the city's famed tourist attractions including the Palais Bahia, the Koutoubia Mosque and Palais el Badi.

With the theme 'Not New Now', Guggenheim Museum curator Reem Fadda brings together some of the Arab world's leading artists including Talal Afifi from Sudan and Saudi artist Dana Awartini. 

Leila Alaoui, the French-Moroccan photographer who was one of 30 people killed by extremists in a Burkina Faso hotel attack last month, is also honoured in the biennale with a public display of her art work.

Oman and UK-based artist Estabrak al-Ansari is another artist in attendance with 'Live Projection Paintings'.

This multi-dimensional work brings together film and live painting and reveal Ansari's immersive and enthralling storytelling technique.

Through this medium, Ansari recounts the tale of Cahena, a medieval Berber queen whose legacy as a warrior allows for a deeper exploration into gender, religion, race and identity.

"I like to act as a catalyst for thought and dialogue, as in many aspects of culture women are completely overshadowed," Ansari said.

"The Marrakech Biennale is a great platform to share this work, especially given Morocco's rich and mixed cultural background."

This is something that the biennale intends to achieve again, in a city that has been at a crossroads between Africa and the Arab world, making Marrakech a unique meeting point for ideas, cultures and beliefs.