By Nii B. Andrews.
The curtain fell on the 3rd edition of the Marrakech 1-54 Art Fair yesterday, February 23.
For the 4 day duration of the fair, the excitement and enthusiasm at all the venues was palpably evident and most infectious.
The CAA was top shelf, the organisation was excellent, the venues architecturally spectacular and the BEAUTY FULL people were out in force “gingering up” all the venues and further enhancing the great vibe of the ancient African city.
As a petit taxi cab driver reminded me while we drove past the teeming number of tourists around the Palais Bahia with the parked horse drawn carriages, the heaps of spices and herbs – giving off a pleasurable aroma, “the fair brings people together; this promotes our feelings for each other especially our common humanity and that is what is important”.
Perhaps nowhere were these sentiments better emphasized than at the MACAAL where the exhibition was titled “Have You Seen a Horizon Lately?”.
The monumental installation Lluvia (Rain) by Daniel Otero Torres featuring a rainwater recycling system composed of streams of water and a variety of perforated metal and plastic drums asked poignant questions about the politics of space and place.
It invited all of us to meditate on the acts of survival and resistance that will need to be adopted when we are confronted with the scarcity of basic life resources.
Some of the answers were clearly evident in the chic cosmopolitan crowd that by sundown on Saturday had congregated in the MACAAL garden.
The expansive lawn had been elegantly adorned with hand made Amazigh and Tuareg reed and leather mats, punctuated by huge bouquets of roses set within vintage Amazigh pottery, modernist candle sticks, minimalist bleached wood furniture and Beni Ouarain floor poufs.
A huge Kuba tapestry with ancient symbols was draped over the eastern over 5m high adobe garden wall.
And of course the music – the “proto blues” – being produced by a live band on a huge stage from the southern end of the garden reminded us once again of the Sahel and the Saharan Diaspora.
All in all shaping a terrific atmosphere that provided glimpses of a much better world – an ideal place where all shall be one.
The La Mamounia gallery exhibitions – often in the charge of confident and knowledgeable African women, had a lot of important art that we will explore in some detail in subsequent posts.
The good news is that the 1-54 keeps growing from strength to strength as a world class event and for this the founder, Touria El Glaoui, deserves our admiration and eternal gratitude.
And so do all the event organisers at the multiple fair venues throughout the city.
The fair provides a formidable counter narrative on Africa; it harks back to the real history and traditions of the continent as a welcoming and inclusive place of excellence and good things which it often proudly shared with or exported to the world.
Thus the fair debunks the odious relatively recent narratives based on colorism, race and “bad things” about Africa.
And of course as expected, Marrakech proved an excellent – no, an unsurpassable host venue for showcasing the glory of CAA to the world.