Curated by Omar Berrada, 1-54 FORUM returned for its ninth edition in Marrakech between the 23 – 25 February 2018 at La Mamounia. In addition, FORUM hosted two sessions at ESAV (L’École Supérieure des Arts Visuels de Marrakech) and LE 18, a multidisciplinary art space.
The 1-54 Marrakech FORUM programme Always Decolonise! engaged with the notion that decolonisation is not a historical event that belongs to the past. In the face of lingering coloniality, the programme explored the idea that decolonisation is an everyday task, in constant need of re-actualisation. In a series of talks, panel discussions, screenings and performances, the 9th edition of FORUM foregrounded the need to decolonise knowledge production, to unlearn Eurocentrism, and to build new futures by re-membering the remaining fragments of folklorised pasts. FORUM called upon the imagination of artists and cultural producers to help invent new modes of acting and thinking.
17:00 – 19:00 The Return of Amilcar Cabral
A rare opportunity to engage with the work of filmmaker SANA NA N’HADA (Guinea-Bissau), an artist-protagonist of African liberation struggles. N’hada was a disciple and companion of Amílcar Cabral, and the author of the first film produced in Guinea-Bissau, The Return of Amílcar Cabral (1976, 31’), which will be screened alongside his more recent documentary on contemporary urban life in Bissau, Bissau d’Isabel (2005, 52’).
14:00 – 15:00 When Rain Falls on the Mountain of Punt
Contemporary understandings of the Red Sea region are fixed to territorial affinities that are entangled in colonial logics. Drawing on the recent discovery linking Egypt to Eritrea through ancient mummified baboons, Black Athena Collective (DAWIT L. PETROS and HEBA AMIN) will investigate contemporary geographies using an alternative conceptual framework. Archaeological and forensic approaches to mobility with an array of visual forms will converge into an expanded performance of history.
15:30 – 16:30 Narcissus and Echo
GRADA KILOMBA (artist and writer, Berlin) will present and discuss a new video work, Illusions (2018, 32’), which re-stages the myth of Narcissus and Echo using the oral tradition of African storytelling, where the artist herself plays the role of the Griot. Here, Narcissus is a metaphor for a society that has not come to terms with its colonial history and takes itself and its own image as the only objects of love, while Echo is reduced to endlessly repeating Narcissus’ words. Kilomba asks, how do we break out of this colonial and patriarchal mould?
17:00 – 18:30 Decolonising Knowledge
What is the significance of intangible cultural heritage? How can we re-order the narratives and representations from and about the African continent? And what does truly free education look like? This panel will explore decolonial strategies in the field of knowledge production, with NANA OFORIATTA-AYIM (writer and art historian, Accra), AHMED SKOUNTI (anthropologist, Marrakech), GRADA KILOMBA (artist and writer, Berlin) and DONNA KUKAMA (artist, Johannesburg), moderated by OMAR BERRADA.
14:30 – 15:30 Toward A Self-Image
How does one build a truthful, decolonised self-image? This conversation will raise issues of representation and self-representation, and explore how questions of culture and identity can be performed or given shape through artistic forms that are singular, subjective or intimate, be they drawn portraits or dancing bodies, with ZINEB BENJELLOUN (artist and illustrator, Casablanca) and ELISABETH EFUA SUTHERLAND (choreographer and theatre director, Accra), moderated by DRISS KSIKES (writer, Rabat).
Language: French & English
16:00 – 17:30 Moroccan Craft in the 21st Century
Artisans, who represent 20% of the Moroccan workforce, are too often constrained by a narrow range of products geared toward the tourist market. The Mahjouba Initiative, which aims to make artisanally-made motorbikes for the local market, is an ambitious attempt at reviving craft by exploring its relations to art, economics, and imagination. A panel discussion with ERIC VAN HOVE (artist, Marrakech), SAMYA ABID (director, Atelier Eric van Hove), DRISS KHROUZ (economist, Rabat) and DRISS KSIKES (writer, Rabat).
18:30 – 21:00 The Struggle Is Not Over
Filipa César’s Spell Reel is a journey in which fragile film archives that testify to the birth of Guinean cinema, as part of the decolonising vision of Amílcar Cabral, become a prism from which to view the present. Digitised in Berlin and screened at various locations, the archive spurs debates, storytelling and forecasts. From screenings in isolated villages in Guinea-Bissau to European capitals, the silent reels are now a place from which people may search for antidotes to a world in crisis. A screening of Spell Reel (2017, 96’) followed by a discussion between FILIPA CÉSAR(artist, Berlin), RUTH WILSON GILMORE (geographer, Lisbon/New York) and SANA NA N’HADA (filmmaker, Guinea-Bissau).