The Marrakech Museum for Photography and Visual Arts (the MMPVA) currently has its home in the the El Badia Palace, in the southern portion of the medina of Marrakech. The palace is in fact a ruin that originally housed Ahmad al-Mansur, the sultan of the Saadi dynasty, so it’s good that some part of it will be put to artistic use.
The current exhibition is entitled “Traces of the Future” – a somewhat contradictory title. The artworks combine social observations with an involvement in issues that constitute the major challenges of tomorrow’s society. It has been hailed as “a celebration of the Moroccan contemporary art with visionary overtones”.
Traces of the Future brings together seven artists: Leila Alaoui, Younes Baba-Ali, Amina Benbouchta, Mounir Fatmi Ahmed Hajoubi, Jamila Lamrani Abdelaziz Zerrou. The exhibition runs until September 30th, 2015
In 2016 The Marrakech Museum for Photography and Visual Arts (MMPVA) is scheduled to open in its new home: an impressive free-standing space designed by Sir David Chipperfield.
Ouazazarte is not the only place in Morocco connected to the film industry.
Kasbah Films is a production services company based in Tangiers, Morocco and founded in 2006. They have recently signed on to “Morocco,” a psychological thriller set against the backdrop of the 2008 economic meltdown.
Told over 72 hours, “Morocco” turns on Simon Collins a wealthy Irish property developer who travels undercover to North Africa on the eve of the financial collapse of 2008 to embezzle funds from his company before it collapses. But Simon’s plans unravel as he comes across Karim, a local property developer and shrewd businessman who quickly discovers the scam and sets off to give Simon a lesson.
Can’t wait to see it.
Private workshops for Moroccan crafts –
Atelier d’ailleurs in Marrakech
Atelier d’ailleurs in Marrakech is an organization that offers many courses on Moroccan handcrafts. You can learn or practice your skills in embroidery, pottery, metal working, tadelakt, woodturning, Moroccan cooking…. You name it, they probably have a course on it. Small, private groups ensure you have lots of hands-on guidance and practice.
For a truly authentic experience of Marrakech combine these private workshops with a stay in our riad in the heart of Marrakech medina.
You can book direct from our website www.riadsapphire.com and we can help organize your workshops.
In the Ensemble Artisanat near the main square.
tel 212 (0)6 72 81 20 46
Marrakech – pack light, pack well
Marrakech often causes much huffing and puffing when it comes to packing for a holiday. It’s hot, it’s a Muslim country (which means covering up) but it’s also a place of great style. So, how to tick all the boxes (conservative but chic and cool?).
The Telegraph tackled the packing conundrum last week and covered the best buys for a trip to Marrakech.
We love the blue Zara trousers (bold but loose and cool) and the Classic Fedora rollable – Brisa Weave Grade 8 hat. We agree that a good sun hat is essential and this one is fairtrade and is built to last. We also love the tip: ‘Head to Souk Chouari for sweet-smelling cedar-wood furniture. In the likely event that your luggage allowance will not accommodate one of the pretty folding side tables, buy a small trinket instead.’
We suggest you leave the Gap leather tote bag though. Nice as it is – you will find better and cheaper at the leather section of the souk when you arrive.
Morocco – movie star central
Ewan McGregor just left Marrakech after filming My Kind of Traitor – a thriller adaptation of the novel by John le Carre about an English couple who while on holiday in Marrakech, meet a shady Russian millionaire and then get into deep trouble.
Tom Hanks has also visited recently, for his movie A Hologram for a King, which was filmed in both Casablanca and Marrakesh, so imagine our surprise when we heard more A-listers had arrived with their entourages to our city! This time it’s everyone’s favourite action hero – Bruce Willis.
Bruce is currently in Marrakesh for the shooting of Barry Levinson’s next movie, Rock the Kasbah – due to premiere in the US in the spring of 2015. He is joined by Kate Hudson, Danny McBride, Scott Caan, Zooey Deschanel, and Leem Lubany who are also in Marrakech to star in the comedy. The story of Rock the Kasbah is about Richie Vance, a past-it music manager who decides to send one of his performing artists on a tour in aid of American troops in Afghanistan.
We heard on the grapevine that Bruce Willis was seen last Tuesday casually taking a walk in Gueliz, hidden partly in a baseball cap but instantly recognisable none-the-less!
Follow us on Twitter where we regularly post celebrity updates about Marrakech: https://twitter.com/RiadSapphire
Photo montage – Southern Morocco
Travel writing and photographic projects both flourish in artistic Morocco but what is really interesting is how new social media forms – combined with cheaper high-quality camera lenses – are helping to facilitate a whole new generation of creative reporters.
This week, we stumbled upon a wonderful photo montage, or presentation, of one man’s car journey through Morocco.
Dave Fields, from Portland, Oregon, starts in Marrakech and while his words are minimal – in classic photo journalism style – his amazingly good photographs speak volumes.
Dave says of his adventure:
“Although our stint in Marrakech was short-lived, it does not take long to be absorbed into the fervid pace of the old Medina. Winding through the intricacies of the frenzied souks, losing all sense of direction seems nearly effortless as you follow the barrage of unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells. Marrakech is a true bombardment of the senses.”
He then travels to the High Atlas and winds westwards, then down to the southern coast and Essaouira.
Take a look at his story here and enjoy the wonderfully evocative photos: https://davefields.exposure.co/southern-morocco
Morocco is awash with artistic talent. At home – and abroad – there are hundreds of excellent Moroccan artists working in various fields. One such artist that we’ve been keeping an eye on for some time now is the French Moroccan artist Yasmina Alaoui who works with her Chilean photographer partner Marco Guerra. Together, they combine their artistic talents to craft haunting and mesmerising works of art.
Born in 1977, Alaoui spent her childhood in France and Morocco, eventually studying at the Ecole Du Louvre in Paris. Guerra, was born in Chile in 1965, is a fashion photographer, whose work has appeared in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Conde Nast Traveller, as well as famous fashion brands such as Levi’s and Ralph Lauren. Their work is like nothing we’ve ever seen, although we can certainly see the Moroccan influences and colours.
Their work can be viewed here (warning contains some nudity!): http://www.operagallery.com/media/132.pdf
There might be blue skies in Morocco, but winter drags on in much of northern Europe and America. A great way to feel the warmth of Morocco is to tune in to the exotic sounds of Ness Radio.
Founded in 2008 in Marrakech by Younes Duret and Wattfutchureez, Ness Radio is the first collaborative Internet radio broadcast from Morocco. Broadcasting an eclectic range of music styles from house and electro to jazz, soul and hip-hop, the ethos of Ness Radio is to provide an exchange and sharing platform that transcends borders.
The radio station has recently released its first compilation: Kafilah 2.0. Kafilah 2.0 is a collaborative project that brings together 16 artists from different backgrounds around the theme of ‘Maghreb, East and West.’ The curious name has been inspired by the ancient adventurer Ibn Battuta who roamed the shores of the Mediterranean, Africa and Asia mainly through the Kafilah (caravan). The ‘2.0’ relates to the digital age.
The first 3 songs of the compilation have just become available as a free download. Expect to hear Gnawa rhythms and sax solos from Hamada El Mansour and work from French producer Woodini.
Listen to the radio station here and the first three tracks of Kafilah 2.0: http://nessradio.com/
Sometimes an afternoon calls for a cultural outing. While in Marrakech there is ample to see just from wandering the lanes, the cool of an art gallery offers space for quiet reflection. A visit to the serene Black on White gallery is a great choice.
A sleek and modern space, the gallery promotes contemporary art in Morocco via various mediums – from painting, drawing, sculpture and photography to installation, performance and video art. The gallery represents twenty artists and highlights their work through regular exhibitions.
The current show ‘Childhood: Art’ is on display until January 20th. Artists include Florence Arnold, Azrhai Aziz Rashid Bakkar, Benjkan Salah Ahmed Ismael Ben Hicham Benohoud, Bigot Martine, Mahi Binebine, My Youssef El Kahfai, Abdelhaq Elyoussi Alain Gerez Ahmed Hajoubi, Tibari Kantour, Christophe Miralles, Mourabiti Mohamed Hassan Nadim Beatriz Nirtán, Jihan Rihani and Nawal Sekkat.
All of these artists have agreed to relive their childhood through this exhibition, using this quite by Baudelaire as their inspiration: “the toy is the first initiation of the child to the art.” Take a visit to see the results.
located in the new town of Gueliz, 48 rue Yougoslavie, 1st floor, Imm. Adam Plaza
After stumbling upon the British Pathé website we were amazed by some of the old footage that can be found catalogued within the site. A short search – either by entering ‘Marrakech’, ‘Marrakesh’ or ‘Morocco’ – can bring up all sorts of fascinating footage from many years ago.
We found a market scene in the Medina from 1974 and various shots of the Sultan inspecting troops of Moroccan army where crowds of dignitaries watch, including some European army officers, from 1937.
In Terry Ashwood’s film ‘Marrakech – Desert Paradise’ from 1948, we watched a unique snapshot of Marrakech with a voice-over from a different time. Admittedly, the commentary seems a little dated but it’s intriguing to watch old scenes of the Atlas Mountains, hotel grounds, waiters, markets and orange trees. There’s a spice seller with his spices laid out in piles on a newspaper and money changing hands with stall owners. You can watch this clip here: http://www.britishpathe.com/video/marrakech-desert-paradise-1/query/Marrakech
This collected footage shows just how Morocco has changed over the decades and how in some ways, things have stayed the same (the craftsmanship, the trading, storytellers and so on).