By Damali and Nii B. Andrews.

The art world descended on Marrakech for the prestigious 1-54 art fair this past weekend. It was the African debut for the fair.

So, on Saturday evening, the Ochre City seized the opportunity to formally open its lavish brand new Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL) to an international audience.

MACAAL exterior- looking good in the evening.


An earlier local launch had occurred during COP22  in 2016.

The MACAAL is an independent, not for profit contemporary art museum. It aims to collect and exhibit both established and emerging artists throughout the continent.

Ahmed Chiha with Damali and NBA.


On the opening night immediately after the VIP program, over a thousand visitors thronged the MACAAL to view the photography exhibition, “AFRICA IS NO ISLAND”; it was located on the ground floor.

Forty emerging and established photographers were showcased.

Mohammed El Mourid and Damali.


Their work examined through a distinctly African perspective, the universally relevant themes of tradition, spirituality, the environment and family.

There were 3 sections to this impressive photography exhibition; I am my own representation, Drawing borders and Transcribing History.

The work of Joana Choumali.

We plan to address these sections fully in subsequent posts.

On the first floor was another exhibition, SECOND LIFE.

This is an exhibition of works drawn primarily from the MACAAL’s permanent collection in addition to loaned and newly commissioned pieces.

SARAH FORBES 2016, by Ayana Jackson.

The exhibits highlighted the creation by the artists of new forms through transformative methods – by reusing/ recycling materials thus emphasizing art’s transformative power through symbolic acts.

Ahmed Chiha, a soft spoken master gardener and self-taught artist showed his bamboo pieces that had been reanimated into a colorful and striking presence.

The work of Ishola Akpo.

His profession had indeed provided him with an artistic narrative.

Interestingly, Chiha’s work shared the same space with “Old Towel”- a sculpture by the Ghanaian maestro, El Anatsui.

El Anatsui’s Old Towel and the work of Ahmed Chiha

Both exhibitions will run until August 24 2018.

The international launch of the MACAAL was simply phenomenal – a tremendous credit to the Lazraq family and the staff.

Long live the MACAAL!!

Musicians and dancers at the International launch.
The MACAAL at early evening.


  1. Many thanks for the article on the MACAA LAUNCH. It is heartwarming & exciting to see African Art being showcased & gaining grounds on international platforms.

    Art in its diversity transcends social, ethnic, geographic & political boundaries & can indeed become a vehicle for unification & international partnership.

    The visual artists’ ability to use their creativity as powerful tools for communication is truly awesome. A picture (imagery) speaks in subtle & compelling ways & in fact solicits dialogue & engagement either with the observer internally & mentally or promotes interlocution with those in their company. It involves & heightens ones senses & sensibilities in very moving ways.

    Art is indeed a great communicator & the fact that African art is finding its rightful place in dedicated museums will help promote the African story more forcefully than any history book. Visual images make a more lasting impression than the printed word ever could so viva l’art!

    The portraits by Joana Choumali are very interesting. For me, they represent the future: both images look into the distance. One in a pensive way exhibiting some scepticism & the other with hope & expectancy! U decide which is which!

    The Ayana Jackson subject depicts serenity, class maybe even wealth & yet there’s an underlying sadness which suggests that all is not gold that glitters! Entirely my take!

    More to come!

    1. Many thanks AMP for this informative and rhetorical tour de force.

      Keep it rolling. And how so perceptive of you on the Ayana Jackson and Joana Choumali photographs.

      In the former, the pathos arising out of exile, loss of identity and ambivalence certainly does come through.

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