Mostapha Romli, Founding President of the International Biennial of Casablanca is pleased to announce the nomination of Christine Eyene as Artistic Director of its 4th edition.
“We are very pleased that Christine Eyene has accepted our invitation to take on the artistic direction of this 4th edition. Her experience and innovative approach will lead the International Biennial of Casablanca to a new phase.”
Initiated in 2012, the International Biennial of Casablanca aims to create an intercultural dialogue between Moroccan and African artists, and the international art scene. It is also a contemporary art platform open to reflections on subjects ranging from the creative field to questions pertaining to society.
The 4th International Biennial of Casablanca curated by Christine Eyene will be entitled Tales from Water Margins. The theme is inspired by Ifitry, the biennial’s artists residency located near Essaouira, facing the Atlantic Ocean. The biennial will propose to reflect on Morocco’s geographic position at the crossroad of the Maghrib, sub-Saharan Africa and Europe, and how this translates in the arts. It will also examine the country’s historical relationship with the notions of travel and transit, from 14th century traveller Ibn Battuta (1304-c.1368 / 77), one the world’s first geographers, to the current position of Morocco as one of the gateways to, and gatekeepers of, fortress Europe.
The curatorial project will also build on Eyene’s prior research and interest in the history and contemporary experiences of insular territories like Reunion Island, ‘pre-Brexit’ Britain and Japan. The title of the biennial stems from encounters with cultures from the Edo era (between 1603 and 1868) in Japan. Among the literature and prints that emerged from this period was Suikōden or Water Margins, an adaptation and illustrations of a 14th century Chinese novel attributed to Shi Nai'an (c.1296-1372) and Luo Guanzhong (c. 1330–1400) chronicling the prowess of outlaws operating from a marsh-edged mountain, fighting against tyranny, and adopting a strategic relation to topography similar to the one later found in Maroon resistance.
Without literally referencing the adapted novel, the biennial borrows one of its translated titles as a metaphor for the current state of spaces that exist at the margins of what is considered cultural mainstreams. In this respect, it will also propose to examine interconnections between islands and the power relations at play in their interactions with mainland territories. For instance, the recent hurricanes that have devastated the Caribbean islands, and the disparities in the assistance provided to affected people have highlighted well known issues addressed for decades by thinkers and activists, from Edouard Glissant to Françoise Vergès, to name but a few.
Tales from Water Margins will take the form a multidisciplinary ‘laboratory’ encompassing space for reflection, creative processes, as well as exhibitions of existing and newly created pieces.