Exploring Morocco’s Cultural Heritage

A Discussion of Visual Art, Design & Gnawa Music Practices in Essaouira

Intersect 21 Palm Springs

Wednesday 17 February, 3pm (EST)
Discussion in English

On the occasion of the Intersect Art and Design fair 21, Rebecca Hoffman (Managing Director, Intersect Art and Design) invited Meriem Berrada (Artistic Director, MACAAL), Hadia Temli (Director, Galerie Siniya28), Kenza Melehi (Designer) and Abel Damoussi (Music Producer) to discuss about Morocco’s cultural heritage through the lense of visual art, design & Gnawa music practices in Essaouira. Meriem Berrada thus presented MACAAL’s upcoming exhibition, Outsiders / Insiders ? Essaouira artists, Fondation Alliances and Fundación Yannick y Ben Jakober collections.
Moderator: Tina Barouti (Art Historian & Curator)

View the full recording below!

About Meriem Berrada

Meriem Berrada designs and implements the various artistic projects of Fondation Alliances since 2012.
In 2013, she created with Othman Lazraq, La Chambre Claire a photo contest dedicated to promoting African emerging photography and in 2014, the Passerelles program, a cross-sponsorship initiative that coordinates the cultural and social poles of Fondation Alliances through workshops designed to raise awareness on contemporary creation in peripheral urban areas. In 2016, she developed the project of the Museum of Contemporary African Art Al Maaden (MACAAL) in Marrakech, of which she is the artistic director. Committed to structuring the artistic ecosystem of the continent, in 2019 Meriem has developed the MACAAL Bootcamp, a training programme which combines sectoral skills and innovative modules around leadership and personal development, helping cultural operators working in the contemporary and visual art fields in Africa to strengthen their profiles.

In 2020, Meriem has been selected in the 40 under 40 Apollo art magazine list of the most influential and talented people in the art world born or based in Africa and in the French ranking 100 Femmes de Culture.

Meriem Berrada has led, in 2017, the fundraising for the Limidity Temporary Art Projects association which reunites three generations of Moroccan artists in order to sustain its artists’ residency; she was also member of the evaluation committee of Roberto Cimetta Fund as an expert in visual arts from 2015 to 2019.

About Kenza Melehi

Kenza Melehi is a fashion designer born in the small coastal town of Asilah and currently based in Marrakech. Melehi left Morocco to continue her studies in Montreal, Canada, where she majored in communications and later pursued fashion design. In 1996, she returned to Morocco for her brother, the late modernist artist Mohamed Melehi’s, exhibition at La Mamounia Hotel in Marrakech. It was there that she was introduced to her partner Abel Damoussi. Together they purchased Kasbah Agafay, a hotel located in the medina, or old city, of Marrakech, as well as a separate riad, or traditional Moroccan home. The riad stands as of 2005 as a house of culture and music as well as the location of one of their music studios. In her fashion practice, she focuses on modernizing traditional Moroccan clothing, particularly the caftan. She runs various workshops and stores throughout Marrakech, where she caters to not only a local, but also an international clientele. She has worked alongside renowned fashion designers Jean Paul Gautier and Yves Saint Laurent and her work has been displayed in various luxury hotels like the Savoy and the Dorchester in London.

About Abel Damoussi

Based in Marrakech, Abel Damoussi has developed a prolific career in music, having produced dozens of albums and participated in numerous music festivals such as the first and second edition of the Gnawa Music Festival in Essaouira. He is the artistic director of the Moroccan Cultural Week in London and the co-founder and former president of the Marrakech Biennial of Art alongside Vanessa Branson. First launched in 2005, the Biennial is a non-profit association whose mission is to position Marrakech as a platform for contemporary art in Africa, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean region. He has founded several concept stores for music and fashion alongside his partner Kenza Melehi in London as well as Marrakech. He also founded the space The Kasbah, which aims to promote Moroccan artisanal production in London. Damoussi has launched several music recording studios in Marrakech and is a member of many associations such as the British Moroccan Society, the London-based Youth at Risk, and serves as president of Yed El Henna.

About Tina Barouti

Tina Barouti is a Ph.D. Candidate in the History of Art and Architecture at Boston University specializing in modern and contemporary Arab and African art. In 2015 she received her M.A. at Boston University, where she focused on photography during Algeria’s civil war of the nineties. From 2017 to 2019 Barouti lived and conducted fieldwork in Morocco for her dissertation on the history of L’Institut National des Beaux-Arts (The National Institute of Fine Arts) in Tetouan with the support of a U.S. Student Fulbright Fellowship, a U.S. State Department Critical Language Scholarship, a Boston University Graduate Research Abroad Fellowship, and a Boston University Graduate Arts Research Grant. She has participated in various workshops and conferences hosted by NYU Abu Dhabi, American Institute for Maghrib Studies, Association of Modern and Contemporary Art from the Arab World, Iran, and Turkey (AMCA), Barjeel Art Foundation, Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, and Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, to name a few. Currently, Barouti is the editorial and curatorial researcher for the 2021 exhibition Moroccan Trilogy: 1950 – 2020 at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, a consultant for Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, and a researcher for AMCA’s “Mapping Art Histories” project supported by the Getty Foundation’s Connecting Art Histories initiative. In 2019 Barouti participated in the Center for Curatorial Leadership Mellon Foundation Seminar in Curatorial Practice. She most recently curated Moroccan photographer Imane Djamil’s exhibition 80 Miles to Atlantis at CDA Gallery in Casablanca.