Fourth Edition

Higher Atlas (Exhibition)

29th February - 3rd June 2012

Curated by Nadim Samman and Carson Chan

High connotes reverie and transcendence: Higher Atlas suggests a cartography of the beyond. The title also refers to surrounding geography, as the Atlas Mountains are visible from all the biennial sites. In this respect, the exhibition is a starting point for a series of trips, both virtual and physical; Other worlds begin at one’s feet. This thesis is explored through site-specific art, architectural, musical and textual interventions. A layered context emerges from the particularity of the exhibition experience, articulating the blurred boundaries between historically discrete spheres, and the conjunction of local and global conditions.

Dispersed among the Théâtre Royal, a building that remains incomplete; the Koutoubia cisterns, which lie beneath the foundations of a previous mosque; the Bank Al-Maghrib building, located on the south side of the perpetually bustling Djemaa el-Fna square; the Cyber Parc Arsat Moulay Abdeslam; and at Dar Al-Ma’mûn foundation, Higher Atlas engages Marrakech by underlining the contemporary relevance of civic, rural and historical sites through the work of international participants. The exhibition, which features work from 37 participants, constitutes a shared platform for diverse demographics, initiating dialogues that produce new, consensual realities.

All works were new site-specific commissions, conceived and created on location with local craftspeople and manufacturers. More than forty international artists, architects, writers, musicians and composers were presented:

Website of the 4th edition:

Catalogue of the 4th edition, published by Sternberg Press:

Nadim Samman is an independent curator and art historian based in London. He read Philosophy at University College London before undertaking a doctorate at the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has written for publications including Third Text, The Art Newspaper, Art Review (Online), Contemporary, Asian Affairs, Art India, Erotic Review, Naked Punch and WestEast. He has also been an invited speaker at MoMA Warsaw, the 2009 Beijing Biennale, Christies and SoAs. His curatorial projects in London, Moscow, Berlin and Zurich have included presentations of leading Russian modern and contemporary artists, emerging international talent and, recently, a large-scale photography exhibition at Somerset House (London) under the patronage of HRH Prince William. In June 2011 Nadim co-curates One of A Thousand Ways to Defeat Entropy, an Official Collateral Project of the 54thVenice Biennale, held at the Arsenale Novissimo.
Carson Chan (1980) is an architecture writer and curator. Chan studied design, history and theory of architecture at both Cornell and Harvard University, where he received a Master's in the History and Theory of Architecture. After working at Barkow Leibinger Architects and the Neue Nationalgalerie's architecture exhibitions department in Berlin, with Fotini Lazaridou-Hatzigoga, he founded PROGRAM in 2006, a non-commercial initiative for art and architecture collaborations. He has variously curated and overseen more than 30 international exhibitions of contemporary art and architecture. His writing on art, architecture and contemporary culture appears in books and periodicals worldwide, including Kaleidoscope and 032c (Berlin), where he is also a contributing editor. Chan has interviewed a broad range of contemporary practitioners, including Thomas Demand, Udo Kittelmann, Adam Caruso, Olafur Eliasson, William T. Vollmann, MVRDV, Greg Lynn, Kevin Kelly, Rick Owens, and David Simon. He has recently lectured at the Schaulager (Basel), GAMeC (Bergamo), 12th Venice Architecture Biennial/Nordic Pavilion, Bund Deutsche Architekten (Berlin), 0047 (Oslo) and he will be speaking at the Fondazione Ratti (Como) this spring. Chan is an active advisor to several cultural institutions including DLD (Munich), Europan, and the Premio Furla - a biennial prize given to the most promising emerging artists in Italy. In 2008 he organized an evening of panel discussions at the Neue Nationalgalerie (Berlin) with leading artists, architects and curators to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Mies van der Rohe building. He is currently working on a series of essays on exhibition making in both art and architecture.


Literature Selection Committee

Omar Berrada                   Writer, translator, Director of the library and translation programmes at Dar al- Mamun Benedicte Clarkson         Secretary, British Moroccan Society

Elizabeth Sheinkman      Agent, Curtis Brown


The Literature programme will consist of 8-10 discussions, debates and readings from international writers and poets. They will mainly be held in the beautiful old 17th century Riad El Fenn as well as other magical venues around the city. We have a number of international figures confirmed which will be announced soon.



Film Selection Committee

Mohammed Bakrim        President of the Moroccan Association for Cinematographic Studies (AMEC) / Managing editor of

                                             Cinemag, film and visual arts magazine

Suzy Gillett                        International Relations Manager, The London Film School

Vincent Meilili                   Director of ESAV Film School, Marrakech

Alan Yentob                      Creative Director of the BBC, London


Most of the film events - screenings, discussions and debates around different topics within filmmaking - are held at the ESAV Film School in Marrakech. The Biennale works with the people who make films - producers, writers and directors  as well some of the major stars. We hold 8 - 10 film events over the five days of the Biennale.

ParticipantsVisual Arts

Alex Schweder La & Khadija Carroll La
Alexander Ponomarev
Andrew Ranville
Christopher Mayo
CocoRosie (Bianca Casady, Sierra Casady)
Ethan Hayes-Chute
Eva Grubinger
Faouzi Laatiris
Florian & Michael Quistrebert 
Gideon Lewis-Kraus
Hassan Darsi
Joe Clark
Jon Nash
Juliana Cerqueira Leite
Juergen Mayer H.
Katarzyna Przezwańska


Lubna Azabal
Mohammed Bakrim
Matthew Bannister
Faouzi Bensaidi
Lamia Chraibi
Suzy Gillet
Jill Green
Anthony Horowitz
Hicham Larsi
Kevin Macdonald
Narjiss Nejjar
Michael Souvignier
Dominic West
Alan Yentob
Katia Kameli
Leung Chi Wo
Luca Pozzi
Matthew Stone & Phoebe Collings-James
Megumi Matsubara
Pascale Marthine Tayou
Roger Hiorns
Sinta Werner
Sophie Erlund
Tue Greenfort
Younes Baba-Ali
Anri Sala 
Karthik Pandian 
Aleksandra Domanović 
Elín Hansdóttir 
Barkow Leibinger Architects, 
Felix Kiessling 
Finnbogi Pétursson
Latifa Baqa
Ali Benmakhlouf
Omar Berrada
Camille de Toledo
Geoff Dyer
Anthony Horowitz
Driss Ksikes
Rian Malan
Pankaj Mishra
Ben Okri
Zahia Rahmani
Abderrahim Elkhassar
Rabia Raihane