12 october - 28 November
curated by Amit hai Cohen
.Artsi Mous, Moroccan Souvenirs, 2019
Ziara, curated by Amit hai Cohen, was the flagship exhibition of the Jerusalem Biennale 2019, presented the work of leading contemporary moroccan artists from all around the world in order to Bind together common Moroccan wisdom. ziara Took place at the historical building of the YMCA Jerusalem, a place that promotes good relations between Jerusalem’s religions and communities.
Participating artists :
Moran Ifergan video / Amina Azreg fashion / Izza Genini Cinema / Artsi Mous fashion and photography Mohammed El Mourid installation art / Mohamed Mourabiti painting / Chama Mechtaly photography / Hicham Benohoud photography, video installation / Ines Abergel Sculpture / lazar Makhluf al Mahdi you tube video / Shlomi Elkabetz video / l4artiste (ismail zaidy) photography Jack Jano Sculpture / Aniam leah Dery Sculpture / Marcelle Tehila Biton installation / Mohamed El baz photography /David Guedj Archives and Research / fatima zohra serri photography / Mohamed Arejdal video / Vinyl collection (collectors: gilad Vaknin, Khen Elmaleh, Uri Wertheim, Chris Silver) installation
by Amit Hai Cohen
I went looking for history in the village of Tizgui, a place not found on any map of Morocco. My great-grandfather, Shalom Amar, came to live in Tizgui at some point in the early 1900s. His house, erected over the foundations of an old Berber building, was the only one in the village built from cement. As a portent, new over old, supported by its foundations and rising to further heights, a patch, creating a new esthetic. A stream flows only a few steps from the front door, within a vast setting of nature. Only ten meters from the house, a mosque. God is great.
It all began with barren earth or arid desert. Even in Netivot where I grew up, the horizon featured nothing but sky. But this emptiness, to which the romantics flock for its magic, is interminably boring for those who live within it. It is the soil from which you cultivate fantasies, the reason you want to flee to the city. You can have the desert with all the authenticity you love; give me asphalt and a balcony that overlooks a row of cafes. I'll come visit.
And somehow, between Morocco and Netivot, we remained untraumatized by the Diaspora. Ask any old woman and she will surely tell you how large the dates were there. Go to the Egyptians, the Iraqis and the Poles – their hearts are wounded. Memory prevails over history; over the distance of time it is easy to forget the Muwahhidun and dhimmi laws. If for others Jews, it was the Diaspora that was traumatic, for Moroccan Jews, the arrival in the land of their dreams was the trauma. Apart from vague memories, the ordeal left us without historical continuity, without the consciousness uniting 2,500 years of existence that extends a line between a Berber from Tahanaoute and a single mother in Dimona, between 18th century piyyutim and a YouTube clip of a hipster teaching Torah in Moroccan Arabic. Our imagination is devoid of a uniform world, a tradition of images. The visuality of the Diaspora is there, and we are here.
Several generations have passed, and Jerusalem has become an exile, an ordinary city, and it is to Morocco that Jews flock to seek holiness. In a parallel universe, Muslim Moroccans reformulate their yearning for the Jews: in research, in culture, and in language. Moroccan intellectuals call to restore Jewish buildings, fashion designers are inspired by traditional Jewish-Moroccan garb, and artists tattoo canvases with tallitot found in the Marrakesh markets. In the world of Instagram, where the politicos and conservatives have no power, you can suddenly see the link between Haim Botbol's electric guitar and Issam’s hip-hop; between Ismail Zaidy’s photographs of Marrakesh rooftops and the goodness of our grandmothers who hung never-ending laundry from the steaming balconies of Netivot. In this world, Moroccans everywhere are creating a profound visual language that is evolving into a common wisdom.
Ziara presents a surprisingly updated selection of Moroccan art, as it challenges preconceived notions regarding what it has to offer. Scrupulously looking back over the last decade, this exhibition exposes the vibrancy of the Moghrabi traditions. This exhibition confronts some conservative powers that keep Moroccan art stagnated and suppress any attempt towards renewal.
Blurring conventional boundaries, this exhibition displays a typical Moroccan approach that opposes unneeded dichotic categorization, clouding the differences between entertainment and culture, art and craft, rabbinical writing and Youtube channels and Jewish and Muslim culture.
Ziara exhibits a broad updated picture of contemporary Moroccan art and creativity, through a rich and varied shared Moroccan wisdom.
About the Jerusalem International YMCA
The Jerusalem International YMCA is a cultural, sports and educational center located in the heart of the city and is affiliated with the Young Men’s Christian Association worldwide. The Y strives to foster equality and friendship among members of all religions, with an emphasis on Judaism, Christianity and Islam, while serving as an oasis of multiculturalism and a space for coexistence among the residents of Jerusalem and beyond.
Jerusalem International YMCA
26 King David St.
Jerusalem 91002, Israel