By Nii B. Andrews.
The inaugural edition of the Rabat Biennale commenced on September 24; it will run until Dec 19 2019.
The biennale is an important project -a large scale contemporary art exhibition, under the high patronage of the sovereign, His Majesty King Mohamed VI.
Its theme is “a moment before the world” and the mission is to showcase the ancient imperial city of Rabat as a “city of light” and the “cultural capital of Morocco” – not simply as its administrative capital.
The eminent French Algerian architect, art historian and philosopher, Abdelkader Damani is the curator. He co-curated the 2014 Dakar Biennale.
Damani has adopted a radical approach by ensuring that every artist involved is female.
He contends that the decision is mandatory in order to forge a new history of art.
“Equality of men and women is a chief concern of humanity that we should be engaged with,” Damani said in an interview with artnet News.
“If you want to rewrite the history of art, you need to create new conditions for how you select the artists, because if you use the same protocol that has been done from the 19th century to now, you are going to end up with about 90% of the selected artists being male, and working in English, French, or Spanish.”
The biennale is taking place at multiple sites in the city and seeks to engage with as many of the city’s residents as possible.
It showcases 63 women artists from over thirty countries – from Africa, Europe, the Arab World, North America, Latin America, and Asia.
The biennale intends to set a new tone and declares to the world, “the woman is at the beginning of everything.”
The artists are engaged in a large variety of disciplines – sculpture, painting, architecture, cinema, choreography.
There will be a conference of women writers, novelists, poets, and essayists to conclude the biennale.
Nearly 50 literary artists will convene under the aegis of Sanae Ghouati, professor at Ibn Tofail University in Kenitra and the Tunisian novelist Faouzia Zouari.
“The biennale will be centered around a fundamental question: how can artists not change, transform or criticize the world, but rewrite it, remake it from the beginning ‘rewriting of the world’ ….and pass through a work of artistic reflection …. to relearn to feel the world. The history of art has been essentially written from a male point of view. We have therefore chosen to position ourselves very clearly on this issue of inequality in art,” states, Abdelkader Damani.
Since the biennale opened less than a month ago, over 50 000 visitors have viewed the exhibit.
A tribute to the matchless Egyptian singer, Umm Kulthum has also been scheduled.
Dubbed as the “The voice of Egypt,” the talented singer was known for her unique vocal ability and style. Her records sold over 80 million copies worldwide.
Male artists have not been excluded from the biennale; their section is very much smaller; a few of them have been given “white cards” to participate.