Where are we now?

For centuries Marrakech has prevailed as a cultural center of North Africa. With its multiple influences features the "plural and porous roots" described by philosopher Edouard Glissant, Marrakech is living a key juncture of its History: its socio-political situation is combined to a blooming creativity in artistic expression with an urge to open up the access to culture. We are witnessing a rare window of time for this region and it is the moment to both ask questions and to invite a broader audience to take part in a constructive and aesthetic manner.
Since the first Marrakech Biennale in 2004, the Red City has invited contemporary artists from Morocco and the rest of the world with the aim of establishing a cultural festival as an initiator of debates and discussions through the lens of the arts. The 2014 edition of the Biennale is a dialogue between four disciplines: Visual Art, Literature, Cinema and Video, and Performing Art.

Curators from each discipline consider the theme, "Where are we now?" and respond through their own perspectives inviting participants to bring individual frameworks into this question.

The curator Hicham Khalidi will create the main exhibition where the vast majority of the artworks will be site specific, produced in and inspired by the context of Marrakech. The artworks will be diffused between the venues of the 16th century Palais Badii, the Dar Si Said, which houses the Museum of Moroccan Arts, and the former Bank Al Maghrib in the middle of the Jemaa El Fna square, which remains the spiritual heart of Marrakech and primary site of transmission of its intangible heritage.

Led by the writer and theater author Driss Ksikès, the Literary discipline will promote access to public space through a series of roundtables as well as performative lectures, connecting performing art and literature, but also through comics as an articulation between visual art and literature. These events will take place in the Royal Theater, a contested theater and opera house built in the late 70s yet never used as such. The exhibition will also open to the most public space of the city as it merges with the visual art exhibition in the main square Jemaa El Fna.

Performing Arts is organized by the founder of Alwaln'art, the public space festival in Marrakech, Khalid Tamer. He will create a circulation that reimagines the relationships of public space between several venues of the Biennale, connecting the two areas where the Biennale will take place: the more traditional space of the Medina and the modern area of Gueliz, the first area built outside of the Medina fortification starting in 1913. The main purpose of this circulation in the public space is to invite the immediate and spontaneous audience to participate in the Biennale by interconnecting the main venues.

Cinema and Video will consider contemporary creations from North Africa in dialogue with other regions, particularly Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. With the participation of the founder of the festival of video installation Casaprojecta, Jamal Abdenassar, video installation as a hyphen between film, visual art, and performing art will be very present for this edition. The film screenings and roundtables will be combined by a carte blanche to the legendary Cinematheque de Tanger.

We are additionally highlighting ten parallel projects that are independently organized and funded, but have been selected by our esteemed Artistic Steering Committee. We will host a range of different projects, including a number that are focusing on sound art as a way of both disseminating and diffusing art in public space.

We are looking forward to welcoming you to Marrakech, and hope our program will stimulate you to respond to the question "Where Are We Now?," enriching our perspective on the contemporary culturein the Red City.

Alya Sebti