There is a lot of excitement building about the Marrakech Museum for Photography and Visual Art (MMP+) which is set to open in 2016.
Ahead of the launch MMP+ invited five highly-regarded photographers from Magnum Photos to shoot the people and streets of Marrakech over the course of two weeks. The results can now be viewed at the exhibition ‘Portrait of Marrakech.’ Curated by Simon Njami, the show is on until 1 February 2014 at the El Badi Palace – the museum’s temporary home.
Of all the photographers exhibiting, we particularly recommend the South African photographer Mikhael Subotzky, who took to the back of a motorcycle to take his shots.
This unusual tactic allows the viewer a ‘similar but different’ examination of familiar streets. By using six different cameras, all of which were mounted to the vehicle, the result is dizzying and hypnotic. The cameras used were the sort that estate agents normally like to employ in order to capture the inside of buildings and give a 360-degree viewpoint.
His cameras expertly recorded the everyday life of Marrakech. There are all the usual scenes of the tourist buses, carts, donkeys, women out shopping and children laughing but the way they have been captured is entirely new. It is this mixture that makes his work so fascinating.
Learn more from the MMP+ Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MMPVA
As one of the world’s best shopping destinations, it’s no wonder that Marrakech has jumped on the worldwide pop-up shop craze. One of the best to keep an eye on is the one held at the restaurant Le Jardin.
Pop Up Shop occasionally takes over the first floor of Le Jardin in Souk El Jeld and the next one is coming right up between the 30th of November to the 1st of December.
So, if you’re planning on picking up a designer leather bag or clutch with a difference (beaded tassels, snakeskin) or a unique kaftan style dress, you ought to pencil in the date right away! As well as ample style and inspiration there will also be books, food and homewares.
1st Floor Le Jardin, 32 Souk El Jeld, Sidi Abdelaziz. Also, keep up with Norya’s FaceBook page: https://www.facebook.com/noryaayron
We recently found out about a small company called Al Nour who produce beautiful, hand-embroidery which has been created by disabled female artisans in Marrakech.
Al Nour is a social enterprise which, along with the retail arm, includes a day care centre and a professional training centre. By shopping at Al Nour your dirhams go directly towards helping to support these hard-working artisan women.
You can shop online too for these hand embroidered textiles which are made from 100% natural fibres in either linen, cotton, wool, pashmina or silk. The designs are beautifully simple and we particularly like the children’s travel pouch, the collection for babies and the traditional hammam-style towels. Best of all, the home textiles can be made to measure.
Palais Namaskar, one of Marrakech’s more opulent five-star hotels, is not the first place you might think of when considering modern art, however this month sees the hotel host a fascinating exhibition to mark the centenary of a journey to North Africa made by Paul Klee, August Macke and Louis Moilliet.
The adventure that these three seminal artists undertook to North Africa (primarily to Tunis) not only shaped their own work but also Modernism in the west on the whole. It is well documented that for many Europeans, North Africa was a source of inspiration. Claude Monet and Auguste Renoir visited Algeria, and Henri Matisse of course lived in Morocco for some time (1912-1913), where he painted some of his famous ‘orientalist’ style works.
It was during Klee’s journey to Tunis that he explored abstract and Modernist ideas and returned with the motto: “Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible.”
Partnering with the Written Art Foundation, a German cultural institution, the exhibition Symbiosis of Two Worlds brings together 40 important American, European and Arabic artists which highlight the ongoing connections between European and North African artists. Among them are Gerhard Richter, Cy Twombly, Georg Baselitz, Shafic Abboud, Mehdi Qotbi, Rachid Koraichi, Nja Mahdaoui and El Houssaine Mimouni. The exhibition runs from November 9 to December 8.
Read more here: http://www.palaisnamaskar.com/eng/hot-news/
Moroccan hip-hop artist
Famous in Morocco, SiSimo is one of the country’s best-loved hip-hop stars. He can be heard on the radio, seen on the TV and watched at festivals and concerts. We heard about him from the excellent website www.moroccolondon.co.uk. They reported on his latest album ‘Bach Jay Bach Dayr’, which is now available worldwide via iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify. The album is split into two, on the first side it is modern rap-rock, and on the second, there’s more of an old-school vibe.
What is refreshing about SiSimo is that he doesn’t rap about the usual topics – it’s not all jewellery and fast cars – instead he raps about Moroccan society and tries to pass on positive messages. He may only be 28 years old but he understands social injustices poverty, illiteracy, crime and the high cost of living and he’s not afraid to sing about them. In fact, his most famous song, “Kilimini” speaks directly of the wealth gap in Moroccan society.
His website is here www.sisimo.ma and you can hear some of his best songs, here on his FaceBook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/SiSimoofficialfanpage
Spanning 200 pages and including 700 illustrations, we think we might just have stumbled upon the ideal Christmas gift for lovers of Marrakech. This book is by Elan Fleisher – a travel and hotel photographer (elanhotelpix.com) – who has chosen to focus on twelve of the most striking riads of Marrakech, and the Medina with its armies of artisans, handcrafters, architects and designers.
The author explains how the riads of the Medina symbolise, not only the long-standing artisanal heritage of Marrakech but also its relatively newly found identity as a destination for creative people, jet-setters and holidaymakers. In fact, the riads he argues, have become as much of a Marrakech attraction as the souks themselves. The riads are destinations on their own, showcasing many aspects of the city that visitors find most exciting about Marrakech – hammams, gardens, gourmet cuisines, craftsmanship, courtyards of fountains, rooftop terraces and views of the Atlas mountains. The author rightly sums up riads as being a mix of “boutique design hotels and historic private preservation museums.”
This book is also breaking new ground as so far, while there have been books on Moroccan interiors and luxury hotels in Morocco, not one has been dedicated to the riad. The book also contains photographic essays on the sights, people, food, surroundings, and nightlife making it a highly suitable souvenir or gift.
The Riads of Marrakech by Elan Fleisher is published by ACC Editions. www.accpublishinggroup.com
Wat Po or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha as it is known, was not only one of Thailand’s first universities (founded in the Chakri Dynasty in 1782) but it remains the centre of Thai Arts and Knowledge. Traditionally, methods of Thai medicine and massage were gathered from the elders and passed on at the university to the next generation. The modern Wat Po Thai Traditional Medical and Massage School in Bangkok opened in 1955 and became the first Thai Medical School under the approval of Thai Ministry of Education. Amongst other things, the school offers courses of Thai Pharmacy, Thai medical practice and Thai Massage.
Why are we telling you this in our weekly blog on Marrakech? Well, there are a few Wat Po massage centres dotted around the world and now there’s one in Marrakech too, Africa’s first. It is located at the Fellah hotel, situated 20 minutes outside of the city in Tassoultante. The centre is open every day from 10am to 7pm and there are plenty of cheerful Thai therapists on-hand to offer advice on massages, aches and treatments. Out the back there’s a wonderful garden full of Thai herbs and plants that have been specially imported to make the ointments and oils. The spa is a real treat and is definitely worth a visit.
Recognisable from their stylish camel branding, Sissimorocco are well known to style aficionados in Morocco and worldwide.
With products that expertly capture the atmosphere of Morocco, their cushions, lampshades, curtains, dishes often feature subtle Moroccan themes from palm trees and donkeys to oriental headdresses. Colours tend to either be the bright, sun-soaked colours we all associate with the souks of Marrakech, orange, red, purple or else brownish sepia tints that perfectly evoke old faded postcards.
It’s not all household goods though, but also accessories including pouches, bags, slippers, tunics and hand embroidered shawls. Many of the pieces are unique and have been crafted using traditional Moroccan artistry. An excellent souvenir or gift, or dare we say it – Christmas present!
The shop is open every day except Tuesday, from 10.30am to 7pm, Souk Cherifia. sissimorocco.com/en
This week sees the opening of Hicham Gardaf’s exhibition ‘Extimacy’ at Gallery 127. The show will run from 1-23 November. Extimacy includes two series, Tangier Diaries and Cafes. This body of work dates back to 2010 and primarily shows intimate portraits of the legendary cafes of Tangier.
The works aim to be intimate without falling into the trap of exhibitionism. Essentially, the show is an exploration of limits while the images are simple. One photograph may be of two chairs and a table in front of a peeling wall, another might be of a man watching a television in a cafe. It is the composition that is most striking as well as the light and colours.
Marrakech is certainly gearing up to be preeminent centre for photography in Africa. The city is currently hosting the first in a series of exhibitions in the lead up to the opening of a permanent home for the new Marrakech Museum for Photography and Visual Art (MMPVA), which is due to open in 2016, designed by British architect Sir David Chipperfield. Currently, the museum is using the city’s El Badi Palace as a temporary space.
Marrakech is readying itself for its 13th annual Film Festival, which will run from 29 November – 7 December. The latest celebrity news is that Oscar Winner Marion Cotillard will join American director Martin Scorsese (President on this year’s jury) on the judging panel. She joins an ever-increasing number of big-star international names who will sit on the jury this year, including Oscar nominee Patricia Clarkson, Amat Escalante, Paolo Sorrentino, Korean director Park Chan-wook, Indian filmmaker Anurag Kashyap and Turkish director Fatih Akin. The jury votes on the festival’s top prize, the Golden Star, as well as many other prizes like best film, best actor and best actress.
The festival will open with the Indian film Ram-leela, the latest by director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who will be in attendance with leading actress Deepika Padukone. The film is a modern version of Romeo and Juliet and it harks back to 2012 when the Marrakech International Film Festival was dedicated to Indian cinema in 2012. True to its international focus, the festival will pay tribute to Scandinavian cinema on 5 December.