British Council Morocco is celebrating 300 years anniversary of the first trade treaty between the United Kingdom and Morocco. The treaty which sets a legal framework for trade and navigation between the two kingdoms, made the UK the largest trade partner for Morocco at the time.
The Anglo-Moroccan treaty of 1721 was ahead of its time because it allowed the movement of people and goods between two nations of different cultures and protected the rights and property of their citizens. The Treaty formed the foundation for renewed bilateral relations and placed Britain as Morocco’s first European ally and trading partner.
British Council aims to celebrate this anniversary by providing grants to support local artists in Morocco and the UK who are working on a creative project that explores historic and contemporary relationships and connections between Morocco and UK. This grant programme is also designed to support the professional development of emerging artists, creatives and cultural practitioners as well as building networks and connections between the UK and Morocco.
The 300 Year Anniversary Projects:
80 Miles to Atlantis
Imane Djamil (Morocco)
In 80 Miles to Atlantis, her photographic body of work around the city of Tarfaya, Imane Djamil works closely with a group of friends born amongst the ruins, in search of a long lost time they haven’t known, fantasized from a nostalgia point of view. Together, they reinvest through staged photographs in desolation as a playground and the ruin as an element to reclaim. Tarfaya (formerly known as Cape Judy) is one of the few places which shared a significant connection with the UK back in the late 1800s.
The city first came to prominence after Donald MacKenzie, a Scottish entrepreneur settled the North West Africa Company (built between 1879 and 1882) and now known as the Casa del Mar. Erected like a wound on a body, the fortress, covered by the salt of the ocean now becomes a scar tamed by the body, which now carries it as cultural heritage. A heritage that must, however, be taken care of since the ocean that symbolically heals it, paradoxically leads it to its death. Imane Djamil will use the grant to conduct research on the inconspicuous historical relationship between Morocco and Scotland and produce the continuation of 80 Miles to Atlantis.
Rap/Drill Music Project (Official title tbc)
This creative project consists of a music video of the Moroccan rapper and songwriter Houda ABOUZ, known as Khtek. This project aims to create a bridge between Morocco and Britain by collaborating with one of the emerging British female rappers with the same music sensibility and authenticity as Khtek. Produced by Gusto from UK, and Babyboi from Morocco, the instrumental is a mixture between two cultural inspirations, a way to show that music goes beyond borders, race or identity. The Music video will be directed by Alaa Eddine Rais; one of the biggest names in the music videos filmmaking industry. Khtek’s first intention with this project, is to create a strong artistic bond between female artists in both UK and Morocco, a proof that although we may have different backgrounds, HipHop culture in general and rap music in particular, can bring people together. The artist who will be collaborating with Khtek will come to Morocco to discover the actual rap scene, create a connexion and work on the song and the music video; which can be an opportunity to create a consistent network between the two countries.
Almahalu (The Shop)
Loren El Hili (UK)
Almahalu will be situated in three Moroccan owned shops in London. Three new artist commissions that are responsive to the poetics of these shops, their histories and their owners will be installed within these social spaces that anchor London’s Moroccan diaspora to its cultural roots. An accompanying publication will further map out the Moroccan diaspora beyond London - through producing a cartography of public facing businesses such as restaurants and shops which this project views as unique sites that can celebrate and make sense of an archive of Moroccan migration to the UK, asserting its memory more firmly within the cultural fabric.
Jessica El Mal (UK)
As the demand for vegan and sustainable material grows in the west, the shores of El Jadida - the home of agar “red gold” algae - have become massively over exploited. Seeing the potential in the organism, Innovate UK funded the setting up of an experimental algae farm in Morocco - to produce not only for material but also for the health benefits which can be extracted in the form of vitamins and minerals. Thus, the future of this material and the industry around it, is inexorably linked between the two countries.
Across a period of nine months, I will begin a curatorial research project into this topic - into algae as a material itself but also the social and economic factors at play. Using algae as a material symbol to delve into wider issues.
With U.K. and Morocco based artists commissioned to collaboratively build a body of new work around the topic after an online residency period to explore more. The artists will be encouraged to think critically about their own locality, and how that interacts globally.
In October 2021, in partnership with Dardishi (magazine and festival of MENA women art in Glasgow) we will release a series of four online events to be determined by the artists involved. These could include but are not limited to talks, workshops, film viewings, a podcast etc and an exhibition of their work will show at P21 gallery in November.
FeMENA Training Programme
Association 4S Fest (Morocco)
As part of the FEMENA program, the Association 4S Fest’ (Morocco) offers moments of exchange and encounters around the stakes of professionalisation of artists in the music industry, specifically electronic music. The program takes the form of a series of workshops and meetings dedicated to electro and digital music professionals and emerging artists. It is deployed through a variety of ways such as: technical support, a series of training workshops and networking events.
These encounters will assemble artists and professionals of the field multiple times a year, gathered around precise themes and allowing them to answer regional stakes as well as questions of creation, production, and diffusion of electro music in North Africa and in local and international markets. The first two meetings are centered around an open discussion about the future of electro music from North Africa, as well as the role of cultural heritage in the influence of musical practice and production. The meetings will gather a panel of artists and active professionals of the local scene. It is this “Territorial anchoring” that is being challenged in this first series of podcasts. A moment for exchange that will offer 4S Fest’ the opportunity to present to the public the FEMENA project through a necessary contextualization of the current state of music in the region.
Abdeslam Ziou Ziou $ Mehdi Azdem (Morocco)
This project aims to create a platform for exchange, meeting and sharing of experience between independent cultural structures in Morocco and the UK (artistic exchange, cultural exchange, professional exchange). These exchanges are conceived in a horizontal way allowing arts and culture professionals to pool practices, share experiences and develop common strategies for the resilience of independent cultural and artistic activities and specially with the conjuncture of Covid-19.
The objectives of this platform are the development of exchanges between art and culture professionals between UK and Morocco, bringing together young artists and cultural actors between the two shores, understanding the functioning and development strategies of emerging (independent) cultural structures in Morocco and the UK, creating online exchanges and discussions between the two communities and finally, the development of medium and long term interdisciplinary creative projects.