Elements in oblivon

Since its foundation in 1071, Marrakech distinguished itself for its urban engineering and water cultures. The archetypical Garden-city, a “rose among palm trees”, while being included in the Unesco world heritage list, in recent times, its heritage has been subjected to intensified speculation and looting. Denouncing this urban waste, Mohammed El Faïz argues that the future of the city will primarily depend on its capacity to integrate its heritage within a strategy of sustainable development. The author furthermore highlights the historical importance of the city’s agricultural hinterland, the Haouz, and its mountains, the High Atlas, repositories of a unique water civilisation nowadays dangerously menaced by a Californian-style reckless graft.*
Indeed, there is a shared need to start critically rethinking the legacies of the technics, technologies and cultures embedded in traditional systems of water management, as signalled by the recent conception of a museum dedicated to water in the city.
As individuals, citizens and consumers, we are called to confront ourselves with our personal and societal use of this common, though taxable and scarce, good, and with our (lack of) knowledge on water-related socio-cultural and political economic stakes.

Courtesy of Platform Zerka
Reactivating the Memory of Water: Between Socio-historical Reflection, Artistic Formalisation, Museological Practice and Spatio-temporal Experimentation

The geo-historical complicity and dependency interconnecting the city of Marrakech with water was the entry point for the conception of Qanat, a curatorial multidisciplinary research project initiated by Le 18 in the context of the collaborative programme KIBRIT. Integrating a series of talks with performances, artistic residencies, an exhibition, collaborative researches, and participative walks and cartographies, Qanat investigates the spaces of water, its routes and (in)visible traces, exploring its spatial, sonic, olfactory and visual memories and embodiments.
In between the deep wells of urban memories, rural histories, ancestral traditions, contemporary practices and the policies shaping modernity, Qanat carries multiple knowledges and visions on the politics and poetics of water memory. Pouring in complementary narratives, the programme may be understood, on the one hand, as a thematic path, investigating the past and present of water’s presence, absence and distribution and its social, urbanistic, cultural and political effects. On the other, it may be read as a methodological network swinging fluidly between artistic approaches, socio-scientific researches and participative initiatives in order to reactivate the memory of the collective heritage embodied by the water civilizations of the region of Marrakech, while fostering an understanding of water as an essential common good.

* Marrakech Patrimoine en Péril. Mohamed El Faiz. Actes Sud. 2002


25 May . 7 pm
Aghbalou - The Source of Water - Screening and conversation with Mhamed Mahdane

Aghbalou - The Source of Water is a documentary movie, which explores the fragile balance between natural resources, economic and technological transformations and contemporary life styles, adopting as an entry point the local history of fights on the right for water in the Toghda valley, in southern Morocco. Moving from the screening of this film, the audience is invited to reflect, with sociologist Mhamed Mahdane, of current socio-climatic transformations, its political economic stakes and the conflicts that the politics of water underpin in Morocco and globally.

26 May . 7 pm
On the liquidity of the South: water, cities, gender and public space.
- Conversation with Salima Naji, David Goeury and M’Barek Bouhchichi, moderated by Mhamed Mahdane

Exploiting as an entry point the researches and experiences developed in the context of the multidisciplinary platform Zerka, this conversation explores the history of the Ain Aqdin water source in Tiznit, to investigate the dynamic, and at times conflictual relations between historicised narrations, urban space configurations and community interactions, looking particularly at the tension between the feminization and defeminization of the source as a public space.

22 October . 7 pm
Garden ecologies - Artist Heidi Vogels in conversation with curator Leire Vergara

This conversation exploits the garden as an point of entry to think about specific modes of artistic and curatorial practice. Opening up the space of the garden as a productive concept derives from the artistic practice by artist Heidi Vogels, who since 2011, instigated a research and film project about the disappearing gardens of Fez. During the presentation excerpts of the film and of latest work in the oases of Tighmert will be screened. The presentation will be followed by a conversation with curator Leire Vergara exploring several notions parallel to both their practices, to develop a vocabulary of work and ideas through the garden.

10 November . 7 pm
A Piece of Water - Sound performance by Abdellah Hassak

This sound performance questions the listener, the audience-listener, on the importance of the harmonization of human life’s rhythm with the natural one, through an auditive immersion inspired by a fragment of ice. Through an algorithm and IT processing, recorded sounds of ice transformation into a liquid phase, is altered into a malleable form, which questions the auditor on its auditive, interactive and illimited experience.

11 November . 7 pm
The waters of Marrakech, a hardly understandable and hearable Moroccan puzzle - Conversation with Thierry Ruf

Cette rencontre explore la politique économique de l’eau dans la ville de Marrakech. This conversation explores the political economy of water in Marrakech and its surroundings. Moving from the researches developed by professor Thierry Ruf, it aims at tracing back what Mohamed Faiz used to define an endangered heritage, hence, the rich, though little visible hydraulic history of the region and the present and future stakes it places for the city.

12 November . 10 am - 2 pm
Mappin Qanat - Participative walk and cartography with professor Thierry Ruf

A day dedicated to the mapping of different traces of the hydraulic heritage of Marrakech, particularly its system of khettaras, both in the urban and rural landscapes. The pathway will be led by prof. Thierry Ruf. A discussion and a pic-nic will be organised at the end of the walk.

13 November . 7 PM
Crossings - Round table with researcher Pau Cata and artists Amado Alfadni, Heidi Vogels and M’barek Bouchichi (Beyond Qafila Thania project), moderated by Francesca Masoero

This round table, co-organised by Le 18, CeRCCa and Marsad Drâa as part of the KIBRIT programme, aims at crossing perspectives and experiences between Qanat and Beyond Qafila Thania, a research project focused on the space of the desert and a caravanresidency initiative in southern Morocco, initiated by Platform HARAKAT.

18 November . 7 pm
Reactivating sensuous geographies: from curating the space of the garden to igniting olfactive memories
- Conversation with Abderrazak Benchaâbane, moderated by Francesca Masoero and Laila Hida

Moving from the eclectic path of Abderrazak Benchaâbane, ethnobotanist, photographer, gardener, parfumier and traveller, this conversation explores, on the one hand, multiple ways to reactivate the spatial memory of a city, its public spaces and amusement sites, focusing specifically on the act of curare the garden and on the translation of an olfactive memory into an essence. On the other, the talk evokes the history of Marrakech as garden-city and oasis-city, underlining the transformations it is currently undergoing.

25 November . 7 pm
Between Wells — Exhibition
With artists: Oli Bonzanigo, M’Barek Bouhchichi, Jérôme Giller, Abdellah Hassak, Shayma Nader, Heidi Vogels

Between Wells is a navigation between the visible and the invisible, between the space of the desert - a place of passages, caravans, nomads, exchanges and slave traders -, the one of the garden and of the city-garden - public and private places of rest, contemplation, amusement partly about to disappear - and between water springs, sources producing integration as well as segregation. The exhibition is a polyphonic and poetic translation of the power of water as a spatio-temporal metronome structuring cultures, cities and world views.

10 December . 4 pm
Common waters, the morphogenesis of a city - Conversation with Quentin Wilbaux

Drawing from the researches started by architect and professor Quentin Wilbaux, this conversation traces the traditional distribution networks of water in the medina of Marrakech, highlighting the ways in which their evolution have structured the city, allowing for a morphogenetic reading of the city’s history. The conversation will be coupled by a participative walk throughout the medina.

16 December . 9 AM - 12.30 AM
Talwoued - Participative Walk - Performance by Jérôme Giller

This walk-performance, developed in collaboration with architect Quentin Wilbaux and through a residency of research in Marrakech, explores the oueds of the city, developing an archive of the traces of this environment, by identifying the marks and urban palimpsest of water over Marrakech landscape.

the speakers

Mhamed Mahdane

Mhamed Mahdane is a researcher at the Université Ibn Zohr of Agadir and expert in sociology. He has conducted extensive research on water management, particularly in the oases of south-east Morocco and in the Souss prairie.

Salima Naji

Salima Naji is an architect, social anthropologist and expert in architectural heritage. She is particularly interested in innovative interventions on old buildings, such as the ksours, kasbahs and collective granaries.

David Goeury

David Goeury is researcher in geography. Among other subjects, he works on the adaptation of innovative solutions in specific contexts through the recycling urban wasted waters for oasis agriculture. With Salima Naji, he has founded Zerka, a research and experimentation platform focused on water and the urbanisation of Mediterranean oases.

Leire Vergara

Leire Vergara is an independent curator, researcher and member of Bulegoa z/b. She has curated various exhibitions and public programmes such as “Dispositifs of Touching: Curatorial Imagination in the Time of Expanded Borders” Trankat, Tétouan (2015). Her writings have appeared in revues, magazines, catalogues and artist books.

Thierry Ruf

Thierry Ruf is an agronome and geographer, research director at the IRD and associated professor at Supagro Montpellier. He participates in multidisciplinary researches focused on water management in southern countries and in the Mediterranean. He has collaborated as scientific expert in the conception of the Museum of Water Civilisations of Marrakech.

Abderrazzak Benchaâbane

Abderrazzak Benchaâbane holds a PhD in Plant Ecology. Ethnobotanist, photographer, gardener, parfumer and traveller, he publishes since 1985 works around the garden and fragrances.

Pau Cata

Pau Cata is researcher, project manager and curator. His projects focus on artistic mobility and artist in residency programmes. In 2009 he founds CeRCCa and he is cocoordinator of NACMM - North Africa Cultural Mobility Map/Platform HARAKAT and of KIBRIT.

Amado Alfadni

Amado Alfadni is an Egypto-Sudanese artist. His work investigates the relationship between the included and the excluded and opens a dialogue on questions linked to identity and politics. Working with forgotten histories and contemporary politics, he questions dynamics of power between the subject and the authority.

Carlos Perez Marin

Carlos Perez Marin is an architect. In 2013 he creates Marsad Drâa, an observatory focused on Moroccan desert, its heritage, architecture, environment and urban transformations. Since 2015 he co-organises Caravane Tighmert, a laboratory of contemporary creation for oasis cultures.

Quentin Wilbaux

Quentin Wilbaux is professor and architect. He is specialised in the rehabilitation of traditional houses in the medina of Marrakech and in Belgium he works with associations on projects focused on urban transformation, ecology and energetic efficiency.

the artists

Oli Bonzanigo

Oli Bonzanigo (Milan, 1989) is an artist investigating the origins and mobility of raw materials and natural resources and their impacts on the relations between societies and civilizations. Bonzanigo researches the links between time and becoming, between suspension and evolution, the spaces between people, the crossings between cultures, the intersections between data, the development of languages, of sounds and the echo of voices.

M’Barek Bouhchichi

M’Barek Bouhchichi (Akka, 1975) lives and works in Tahanaout, where he teaches. Through different mediums, Bouhchichi’s work is a tentative language grounded on the exploration of the limits between our internal discourse and its extension towards the outer world, the actual, the other. He places his works at the crossroad between the aesthetic and the social, exploring associated fields as possibilities for self-definition.

Jérôme Giller

Jérôme Giller (Dijon, 1973) develops an artistic reflection on urban and peri-urban territories that emerges from the footwalk as a method of artistic creation and as an instrument for the physical experimentation over a territory. The archives created from these experiences allow to draw up an iconographic inventory of the forms of the spaces crossed.

Abdellah Hassak

Abdellah Hassak (Casablanca, 1984) is a sound and new media artist. His work focuses on the use of digital technologies and IT coding for sound transformation and interactivity. His creative process is nourished by researches, particularly around the archive and around the soundscapes of cities under social and cultural transformation.

Shayma Nader

Shayma Nader (Ramallah, 1991) is a Palestinian artist interested in the composition of intersecting narratives evoking the experience of a landscape. Tracing the historic development of knowledges, emotions and significations of a specific site, her research investigates memory and its usage in the creation of space.

Heidi Vogels

Heidi Vogels (Eindhoven, 1978) is an artist, filmmaker and producer. In her artistic practice, she exploits particularly photograph and film in order to redefine the representation of daily life. With solid conceptual bases, her works are stratified narratives that adapt to the context and its public. Vogels works on a documentary movie GARDENOFFEZ and develops research of the garden as a productive concept.
Photo by Laila Hida

Qanat is curated by Francesca Masoero and Laila Hida and it is part of Kibrit, a collaborative research and production programme dedicated to artistic and curatorial practices engaged in reflections on the reactivation of collective memories and cultural heritage.

Qanat is supported by South Med CV, a programme co-funded by the European Union in the context of Med Culture, by Wallonie-Bruxelles International and by NOMAD and Casablanca Production.

Qanat graphic design: Maycec

developed by

all projects

Project Atelier Observatoire

Collective Cinema / Neglected Cinema

Project Cercca
Platform HARAKAT
Beyond Qafila Thania
Project Le18
Project Jiser
Project Maison
Valise pédagogique / Mallette pédagogique
Project Rhizome
We dreamt of utopia and we woke up screaming. ‘On Air’
Project Ramallah

research (soon)

the partners

LE 18