Presented by Borderline Theatre Project and the American Language Center in Tangier, the 2017 Youmein Creative Media Festival was a co-production with DABATEATR, in partnership with the Tangier-American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies (TALIM), TechnoPark Tanger, Association Tanger Région Action Culturelle (ATRAC), and Think Tanger.
In its third edition, the Youmein Creative Media Festival took up the theme “imitation” or, in Arabic, “taqlid”. Reflecting on the question, “how do cultures and society change, if not by imitation?” and [laying on the Arabic “taqlid” (imitation) and its plural form “taqalid,” (traditions) many pieces in the festival explored the relationships between imitation and tradition, cultural borrowing and modernity, and mechanical reproduction.
With the support of TALIM, Youmein was able to invite three Algerian artists to participate in the festival- Maya Benchikh El Fegoun, Mehdi Djelil, and Oussama Tabti. Additionally, TALIM sponsored the annual Festival Round Table, this year with Moroccan-Algerian (and Tangier’s own) curator Nouha ben Yebdri (Mahal Art Space; Madrassa Collective) and Ceutí architect, curator, and artist Carlos Pérez Marin (Caravane Tighmert, Marsad Drâa) moderated by festival Artistic Director and anthropologist A. George Bajalia.
The 48 hours of work took place in the basement of TechnoPark Tangier, in the future home of DABATEATR’s DABATEK theatre space. Slide back the industrial metal door a few hours before the vernissage, and past the crooning notes of Adam Raougui’s sound installation, you would have found artists hard at work hanging metal sculptures of jebli handiras from the ceiling (Mehdi Djelil); photocopiying and stitching together mosaics of a new zilig algorithm (Nassim Azarzar); coaxing the flames out hung ButaGaz tanks and pipes searing words of love, peace, and honor into metal plates (Lotfi Souidi); or disassembling mannequins to hang alongside stories and sounds collected throughout the 48 hours (Ramia Beladel and Lena Krause). You might also have seen or heard the sounds of theatre and dance rehearsals, as a Ahmed Benattia, Nadia El Kastawi, and Carlos Alcántar prepared their tri-lingual reflection on nation and identity. Around the corner, Nina Cholet and Boris Carré covered an entire corner of the space with a live-fed projection map of Cholet’s movement and previous choreography. Just a few meters away Maya Benchikh El Fegoun’s painted work hung on the industrial concrete wall- a reflection of North African blues infused with ritual, sacrifice, and endurance. Oussama Tabti’s work may circulate far beyond Tangier, as he created a post-card series showing 6 scenes of fake palm trees hiding telephone poles in Marrakech, Los Angeles, and Nice. In a nod to the imitation postcards one finds across cities such as Tangier, Tabti generously invited the public to take home postcards of their own. And in response to the forms of imitation well known by most Tanjawis, photographer M’hamed Kilito spent the 48 hours documenting various forms of counterfeit designer goods (and their prices).
The festival felt bigger than previous years, and not just because the size of DABATEK! This year’s artists really filled the space with their work and personalities, and walking through the space in advance of the vernissage was almost like a guided tour through a series of artist studios. Despite coming from varying disciplines, it seemed as though the festival opened up a space for collaboration that one doesn’t often see in Tangier these days. We look forward to the next edition.
Nina Cholet & Boris Carré
Ahmed Benattia; Carlos Alcántar; Nadia El Kastawi
Maya Benchikh El Fegoun
Ramia Beladel & Lena Krause (invited Youmein alumnae artists)