Casablanca was built upon 2 fundamental axes: commerce and immigration. When the French arrived in 1907, they found a simple town quite unlike the imperial cities of Fez, Meknes, Rabat or Marrakech with 20,000 inhabitants living in a small medina. The Casablanca "miracle" captivated a cosmopolitan population drawn to the promise of business and work opportunities. The city grew to 78,000 inhabitants in 1913, and in eight years, the European population mushroomed from 570 to 31,000. It was in Casablanca that the French term "bidonville", or shantytown, was coined, as informal reed huts with corrugated metal roofs were cobbled together to respond to an urgent housing shortage.
Complexes known as Hay Mohammadi housed thousands of Moroccans who knew only the practices, traditions and customs of their own homelands. This intermixing of populations and cultures on the edges of the city created the identity of Casablanca, and of Morocco, that we know today.
Following the country’s independence in 1956, the city saw an inverse polarity in which the centre lost its status both as the historic heart of the city and its decisional power. Displacement became the means for Casablanca to reinvent itself and draw resilience. In one century, the city that boasts a a population of over 4 million today, has undergone profound mutations. Rachid Andaloussi, Casablanca-based architect notes "each time a new urban centre is born, it is a death announcement of the one that preceded it".
This exhibition a simultaneous, non-linear experience where archival images, sound recordings, a short film, a monumental drawing and contemporary photography will collide.
About the Artists
Zineb Andress Arraki was raised in Casablanca. Her award-winning work combines architecture, photography, sculpture, and video. Her recent solo exhibition, Casablanca CH2O is the result of three years of research.
Aicha El Beloui is an illustrator, graphic designer, and creative director living and working in Casablanca. Trained as an architect, she began her artistic practice to express an obsession with citizenship, public spaces, belonging, freedom, and the individual in the Moroccan context. Aicha will translate Casablanca into a graphic mural landscape within which the exhibition content will sit.
Mostafa Maftah lives and works in Casablanca. His paintings, sculptures, drawings, installations and performances exhibit a quest for individual and collective memory in streets and on walls. Maftah’s work, ‘Feu en Océan’, is the first and only tapestry made using traditional weaving techniques by a Moroccan man.
Hicham Lasri is a writer, filmmaker, graphic designer and activist living and working in Casablanca. He has produced plays, movies, and short films on YouTube to promote social awareness among Moroccans. His movies have been selected for the Berlinale in 2014 and 2017, and for Acid Cannes in 2012 and 2013. Hicham Lasri has produced Casa one day, a visual poem in honour of his city.
Anna Raimondo lives in Brussels and works internationally. She has participated in several international exhibitions and festivals. She is co-editor of the radio and sound arts platform Saout Radio, based in Morocco. Sonically translating the intimate transhumance of Casablanca, Anna has archived fragments of the city’s resistance and negotiation with traditional Morocco, integrating residents’ anecdotes with the sounds and stories of the music group Nass El Ghiwane.
Yassine Alaoui Ismaili, aka Yoriyas, is a self-taught photographer, dancer and choreographer. His very urban compositions, very contrasted and very baroque, quickly become a reference for Street photography. His work has been the subject of numerous publications - NY Times Lens (2016), The Guardian (2016), National Geographic Yourshot, Daily Dosen (2015), FIFA Magazine (2015) etc.- and exhibitions in Africa and Europe. Yoriyas received the first prize of the World Street Photography of Hamburg (2015) and of the Photographic Nights of Essaouira (2016).
Fatima Mazmouz is part of a new generation of emerging artists in Morocco and is photographer-visual artist, performer, lecturer and writer. The diversity of her practices and approaches come together in the research on the notion of identity: gender, body, immigration, and the stereotypes that accompany them . Fatima Mazmouz creates bridges between the intimate and the politico-socio-cultural field that crosses it. The question of multiculturalism is the main focus of her work, through reflection on the body.
Mohamed Tangi is a Casablanca native and collector, whose passion for the city began thirty years ago, when he converted his home into an archive of the city. He played an active role in the ongoing rehabilitation of the Casablanca Medina which is almost complete. In the exposition objects from Tangi’s personal collection are shown.
Curator Salma Lahlou graduated in both in curatorial studies and law. After working as the Vice-President of the National Museums Foundation of the Kingdom of Morocco, she founded Thinkart in January 2015 and has curated various exhibitions including Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Casablanca : la fabrique de l'art et de l'histoire chez Belkahia, Chabâa, Melehi at the Marrakech Biennale in 2016, and In the Carpet/ Über den Teppich in Stuttgart (2016) and Berlin (2017).
Curated by Salma Lahlou assisted by Omar Mrani