Arts in Marrakech (AiM) International Biennale

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The Marrakech Biennale
بينالي مراكش
Marrakech Biennale 6 - logo.JPG
Logo of Marrakech Biennale 6
Genre Biennale, Focused on Contemporary Visual Art, Literature, Film and Arts in Public Spaces
Date(s) 6th edition: 24 February 2016 until the 8th of May 2016
Frequency Biennial, every two years
Location(s) Marrakech
Years active since 2005
Founder Vanessa Branson
Patron(s) Vanessa Branson and Abel Damoussi

The Arts festival in Marrakech, now the Marrakech Biennale, first took place in 2005 [1] It was set up by Vanessa Branson and Abel Damoussi. It is the first major Trilingual (English, Arabic & French) festival in North Africa.[2] It focuses on cutting-edge contemporary Visual art, Literature and Film. It consists of a main Visual Arts Exhibition, other arts exhibitions, installations and happenings, discussions, debates and screenings based in the eclectic venues and settings that Marrakech has to offer. AiM is now known as Marrakech Biennale.

1st Edition 2005[edit]

The exhibition of the Wonderful Fund Collection opened AiM 2005 at the Museum of Marrakech. This collection of 100 works of contemporary art - purchased by Vanessa Branson and Prue O'Day as curators for the London-based collectors group, was exhibited for the first time ever at AiM. The collection was not put together as an investment, but as a platform for discovery and a means of supporting young artists. There were 64 artists representing 17 countries in the Collection and included work from artists such as Sarah Lucas, Grayson Perry, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Tracey Emin and Gavin Turk.

The fantastic Literary Programme was organised by Pablo Ganguli, highlights included a panel discussion on the future of English and literature and how the media can play a key role in its promotion, chaired by Geordie Greig with author Hanif Kureishi, Alexandra Pringle, Peter Florence, Simon Prosser, Ekow Eshun, Esther Freud, Antony Gormley, Annie Lennox and Hari Kunzru; and a conference on the importance of the translation of Arabic literature and poetry in the western world and a discussion on the state of Arab literature, featuring Ahmed El Madini, Rabii Mobarak, Susanna Nicklin, Wassini Laraj, Tayeb Salah and Mahi Binebine.

2nd Edition 2007[edit]

The 2007 festival bought together acclaimed writers, directors and artists from across Morocco and the world together in a rich forum of debate and cooperation. It grew in the number of participants and attendees and was Coordinated by Clare Azzougarh.

The main Visual Arts Exhibition was of South African photography as well as the L’appartement 22 project curated by Abdellah Karroum.[3] The venues included the Marrakech Museum, ESAV Film School, Royal Theatre, Riad El Fenn, Riad Magi and Ksour Agafay.


Yassin Adnan, James Dearden, Faouzi Bensaidi, Walter Lassally, Deborah Moggach, Sussan Deyhim, Farida Benlyazid, Josdi Bieber, John Boorman, Ruth Charney, Sarah Curtis, William Dalrymple, Ross Douglas, Edmond El Maleh, Hamid Fardjad, David Goldblatt, Richard E. Grant, Mohsin Hamid, Sally Hampson, Christopher Hampton, Richard Horowitz, Pieter Hugo, Hari Kunzru, Nick Laird, Santu Mofoken, Daniel Morden, Zwelethu Mthethwa, Zanele Muhole, Sam Neave, Mark Peploe, Simon Prosser, Gabriel Range, Tahir Shah, Hardeep Singh Kohli, Zadie Smith, Ian Softely, Mikhael Subotsky, Guy Tillim, Nontsikelelo Veleko, Alan Yentob.

3rd Edition 2009[edit]

The 3rd Edition of the AiM International Biennale 2009 directed by Vanessa Branson and coordinated by Clare Azzougarh was launched in November 2009. The main Visual Arts Exhibition, "A Proposal for Articulating Works and Places" was curated by Abdellah Karroum [4] and held in the Palais Bahia. The Exhibition premiered works by Francis Alys, Yto Barrada, Lordana Longo and Batoul S'Himi amongst many others. Other Events included Julien Fisera and Laurent P. Berger Directing the Stories of Order and Dissorder which placed storytellers in taxis around the city; a Sketch Gallery London Curated by Victoria Brooks, Giles Round and Mark Ariel Waller bought their project 'Taverna Especial to an ancient Riad in the Medina. Attendees also include Turner-nominee Isaac Julien, BBC TV arts executive Alan Yentob and Moroccan film director Faouzi Bensaidi, actress Kim Cattrall and artist and film-maker Julian Schnabel, who took part in many different, discussions and debates at venues including ESAV film school, Riad El Fenn and Ksour Agafay.


Adel Abdessemed, Bani Abidi, Yassin Adnan, Mark Aerial-Waller, Sofia Aguiar, Mustapha Akrim, Sobhi Al-Zobaidi, Francis Alys, Noureddine Amir, Alice Anderson, Younes Baba-Ali, Raffaella Barker, Yto Barada, Marie-Louise Belarbi, Faouzi Bensaidi, Rachid Benzine, Laurent P. Berger, Omar Berrada, Katrine Boorman, John Boorman, Franck Bragigand, Victoria Brooks, Francois Bucher, Kim Cattrall, Chto delat?, Tomas Colaco, Stuart Comer, Claudia Cristovao, Shezad Dawood, Sana El Aji, Ahmed El Maanouni, Nina Esber, Charles Esche, Patricia Esquivias, Hamid Fardjad, Seamus Farrell, Eric Fellner, James Fenton, Julien Fisera, Pedro Gomez-Egana, Joana Hadjithomas, Leila Hafyane, Sally Hampson, Marius Hansen, John Hillcoat, Chourouk Hriech, Fadwa Islah, Isaac Julien, Abdellah Karroum, Bouchra Khalili, Hassan Khan, Jooyoung Lee, Rebecca Lenkiewicz Loredana Longo, Bernard Marcade, James Marsh, Mourad Mazouz, Vincent Melilli, Danny Moynihan, Mark Nash, Heidi Nikolaisen, Otobong Nkanga, Kristina Norman, Andrew O'Hagan, Eleanor O'Keeffe, Bouchra Ouezgane, Catherine Poncin, Pere Portabella, Alexandra Pringle, Younes Rahmoun, Jose Roca, Giles Round, Rasha Salti, Jerome Schlomoff, Julian Schnabel, Wael Shawky, Hardeep Singh-Kohli, Kathryn Smith, Ahdaf Soueif, Anna Steiger, Anne Szefer Karlsen, Abdellah Taïa, Naoko Takahashi, Barbara Trapido, Justine Triet, DJ U-Cef, Nontsikelelo Veleko, John Walsh, James Webb, Alan Yentob, Hisham Zaman, John Zarobell.

4th Edition 2012[edit]

Marrakech Biennale 4 -Higher Atlas

The 4th Edition of The Marrakech Biennale opened on 29 February and was co-ordinated by Jessica Bannister. The 5 days opening was titled 'Surrender' and consisted of Performances, Debates, Talks and Screenings as well as the opening of the Main Visual Arts Exhibition on 1 March. Higher Atlas, a major exhibition curated by Dr Nadim Samman and Carson Chan took place at the Théâtre Royal, Koutoubia Cisterns, Bank Al-Maghrib, Cyber Parc Arsat Moulay Abdeslam and Dar Al-Ma’mûn in Marrakech (1 March-3 June 2012). High connotes reverie and transcendence. Higher Atlas suggests a cartography of the beyond. All works were new site-specific commissions, conceived and created on location with local craftspeople and manufacturers. Over thirty international artists, architects, writers, musicians and composers showed their work, including Karthik Pandian, Juliana Cerqueira Leite, Juergen Mayer H, Andrew Ranville, Felix Kiessling, Finnbogi Petursson and Turner Prize nominated Roger Hiorns. The exhibition sought to engage in an expansive dialogue with the city.


Art by Faouzi Laatiris for the 4th edition of the Marrakech Biennale. credit: r.v.wienskowski

Visual Arts

Aleksandra Domanović, Anri Sala, Alex Schweder La & Khadija Carroll La, Alexander Ponomarev, Andrew Ranville, Barkow Leibinger: Frank Barkow & Regine Leibinger, project architect: Gustav Düsing, Christopher Mayo, CocoRosie (Bianca Casady, Sierra Casady), Elín Hansdóttir, Ethan Hayes-Chute, Eva Grubinger, Faouzi Laatiris, Felix Kiessling, Finnbogi Pétursson, Florian & Michael Quistrebert, Gideon Lewis-Kraus, Hadley+Maxwell, Hassan Darsi, Joe Clark, Jon Nash, Juliana Cerqueira Leite, Juergen Mayer H., Karthik Pandian, Katarzyna Przezwańska, Katia Kameli, Leung Chi Wo, Luca Pozzi, Matthew Stone & Phoebe Collings-James, Megumi Matsubara, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Roger Hiorns, Sinta Werner, Sophie Erlund, Tue Greenfort, Younes Baba-Ali, جماعة


Alan Yentob, Anthony Horowitz, Dominic West, Faouzi Bensaidi, Hicham Larsi, Jill Green, Kevin Macdonald, Lamia Chraibi, Lubna Azabal, Michael Souvignier, Mohammed Bakrim, Matthew Bannister, Narjiss Nejjar, Suzy Gillet


Abderrahim Elkhassar, Ali Benmakhlouf, Anthony Horowitz, Ben Okri, Camille de Toledo, Driss Ksikes, Geoff Dyer, Latifa Baqa, Omar Berrada, Pankaj Mishra, Rabia Raihane, Rian Malan, Zahia Rahmani

5th Edition 2014[edit]

Voice in the Wilderness For the Marrakech Biennale 5

The 5th edition of the Marrakech Biennale took place, from February 28 to March 30, 2014, under the patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI.

The MB5 was attended by over 450 artists including more than 100 Moroccan artists, it had over 30,000 visitors. It mobilized more than 80 sponsors and patrons and invited over 150 international and national journalists and professionals.Thanks to an extensive programme, as well as the quality of the artists and media coverage, the event got ranked among the top 20 biennials in the world.[5]

Visual Arts[edit]

Curated by Hicham Khalidi

Architectural and sound intervention at the El Badi Palace, by Artist Asim Waqif, for the 5th edition of the Marrakech Biennale. Photo by Mahdi Messouli

The exhibition, curated by Hicham Khalidi, invited 43 artists from Morocco and several other countries. The vast majority of the artworks were site specific, produced in and inspired by the context of Marrakech. The artpieces were diffused between the venues of the 16th century El Badi Palace, the Dar Si Said, which houses the Museum of Moroccan Arts, the former Bank Al Maghrib in the middle of the Jemaa El Fna square - This square is the pulsing heart of the Medina of Marrakech, and it has been defined by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity- and a unique art deco building in the area of Gueliz called L'Blasa, Which is now the headquarters of the 6th edition of the Marrakech Biennale in 2016.

v12 laraki, in Bank Almaghrib, by artist Eric Van Hove, for MB5

'Singing Maps and Underlying Melodies' curated by Clara Meister in collaboration with S.T.I.F.F., KamarStudios and Moroccan musicians. Freq_out 10 is Commissioned by Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (


Adriana Lara - Agnes Meyer-Brandis - Anne Verhoijsen - Asim Waqif - Burak Arikan - Can & Asli Altay - Cevdet Erek - Charif Benhelima - Éric Van Hove - Gabriel Lester - Ghita Khamlichi - Hamid el Kanbouhi - Hamza Halloubi - Hassaan Kahn & Ibtesam Gazder - Hiba Khamlichi - Hicham Benohoud - Iman Issa - Jelili Atiku - JG Thirlwell - Kader Attia - Katarina Zdjelar - Katinka Bock - Keren Cytter - Khaled Sabsabi - Lili Reynaud-Dewar - Max Boufathal - Mohamed Arejdal - Mounira Al Solh - Mustapha Akrim - Pamela Rosenkranz - Patrick Wokmeni - Randa Maroufi - Saâdane Afif - Sandra Niessen - Saout Radio (Younes Baba-Ali & Anna Raimondo) - Saud Mahjoub - Shezad Dawood - Tala Madani - The Naked - Wafae Ahalouch el Keriasti - Walid Raad - Yassine Balbzioui - Younes Rahmoun - Zaynab Khamlichi


Anna CeehBJ Nilsen - Brandon LaBelle - Carl Michael von Hausswolff - Christine Ödlund - Franz Pomassi - Jacob Kirkegaard - JG Thirlwell - KamarStudios - Kent Tankred - leif e. boman - Leif Elggren - Maia Urstad - Mike Harding - Petteri Nisunen - Tommi Grönlund

Cinema and Video[edit]

Curated by Jamal Abdennassar

Cinema and Video considered contemporary creations from North Africa in dialogue with other regions, particularly Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. With the participation of the pioneering founder of the festival of video installation Casaprojecta, Jamal Abdenassar, video installation as a hyphen between film, visual art, and performing art was very present in this edition. The film screenings and roundtables were combined by a carte blanche to the legendary Cinematheque de Tanger. With a Carte Blanche to “La Cinematheque de Tanger


Amir Rouani - Hassan Darsi - Hicham Ayouch - Ismael El Iraki - Mohamed El Baz - Mohammed Laouli - Soukeina Hachem - Yacout Kabbaj - Yasmine Hajji - Youssef Ouchra


Curated by Driss Ksikes

Moroccan Actress Latifa Ahrar and a member of the Biennale team interacting with art by Moroccan artist Hamid el Kanbouhi. Photo: Mahdi Messouli

Led by the Moroccan writer and theater author Driss Ksikès, the Literary discipline promoted access to public space through a series of roundtables as well as performative lectures, connecting performing art and literature. These events took place in the Royal Theater, a contested theater and opera house built in the late 70s yet never used as such. Playing on this, it was also the main venue of the previous edition of the Marrakech Biennale. The literature section also took place in Riad Denise Masson, the house of the first woman who ever translated the Koran into French and Dar Cherifa, the oldest house of the Medina. Finally, the exhibition opened to the most public space of the city as it merges with the visual art exhibition in the main square Jemaa El Fna, fusing the new and the old.


Abdelmajid Arrif - Aïcha El Beloui - Ali Essafi - Asmae Lmrabet - Ghaleb Bencheikh - Hamza Boulaïz - Imane Zerouali - Jaouad Essounani - Latefa Ahrrare - Michael Willis - Mohamed Sghir Janjar - Mounia Bennani-Chraïbi - Mounir Bensalah - Olfa Youssef - Raja El Mouatarif - Saïd Bouftas - Saloua Zerhouni - Sanae El Aji - Simohammed Fettaka - Sophia Hadi - Taïeb Belghazi - Yves Gonzalez-Quijano

Performing Arts[edit]

Curated by Khalid Tamer

Performing Arts was organized by the founder of Alwaln’art, the public space festival in Marrakech, Khalid Tamer. He created a circulation that reimagines the relationships of public space to both outsiders and natives between several venues of the Biennale. This movement is organized as a dialogue between the contemporary and the traditional, connecting the two areas where the Biennale took place: the more traditional space of the Medina and the modern area of Gueliz, the first area built outside of the Medina fortification starting in 1913. The main purpose of this circulation in the public space is to invite the immediate and spontaneous audience to participate in the Biennale by interconnecting the main venues.


Collectif "Les Scotcheurs Eclaires" - Philippe Allard et M’Barek Bouhchichi - Sandrine Dole

6th Edition 2016[edit]


The 6th edition of the Marrakech Biennale will take place from February 24 to May 8, 2016. In support of the positive results and the exceptional impact of the 5th edition, the coming edition will summon artists and professionals around the theme "Not New Now" that will examine key issues of the artistic and cultural development in the Red City.

The Curator[edit]

For the 6th edition, the Marrakech Biennale has chosen as curator the dynamic Reem FADDA, currently-(2015) Associate Curator of Middle Eastern Art for the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Project. The programming will take a multidisciplinary approach to unite and introduce artists and works primarily from the Arab World, the Mediterranean region and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Curatorial Concept[edit]

Abstraction | Action art | Africa | Arab world | Civic Awareness | Cultural Resistance | Decolonization | Defeat | Incendiarism| Intangibility | Junk art | Materiality | Minimalism | New | Now | Purpose | Recycling | Responsibility | Responsiveness | Survival Technologies | Urgency

How do we surpass the cultural orientation towards newness? That same culture inherited from the modern ideal, which in thinking advancement, has caused for hollow consumption. The postmodern order recycled the past and packaged it in the mere service of the new. Then, is the search for the New, with its inherent aspirations for discovery and truth, a mere escapism? Could we simply reject the New?

We are caught in a temporal Ping-Pong that oscillates between future and past, seemingly disregarding the present. For if the New, as a cultural and material trope, is bound to the future, and history is anchored to the past, how and when are we left to emphasize the now? Could the surmounting political urgencies, the tremors of earth—that growing wasteland, the vestiges of materials, bones, and boats in shores and art alike—, the calls for responsibility and ecology all be heard beckoning for this shift of time focus? This is the time for a heightened civic awareness, focusing on action and responsiveness.

Marrakech is Africa and the Arab world; they are throbbing all at once. The city lends itself as a site, bare of white walls, to look at art from within the larger continent. Through the biennale, we will examine how art is used formally, as a means for cultural resistance and how ideas, ranging from abstraction, minimalism, recycling, junk art to creative survival technology, are becoming pervasive from past present experiences that occurred there. The biennale looks at the legacies of decolonization, in addition to its failures, as one of the origins that has inspired contemporary art to embrace incendiarism, criticality and radicalism. The biennale’s premise also builds on the intangible, a longstanding history of Pan Afro-Arab & Afro-Asian unity, through critically investigating socio-political projects, cultural partnerships, intellectual provocations and art movements that have led to many shared artistic tendencies.

Public heritage sites of Marrakech, such as Palais El Badi and Palais Bahia, will witness a variety of works from installations to site-specific commissions, by a group of international artists, focusing on Africa, the Arab world, and its Diasporas. Performances, exhibitions of archives, film programs, seminars, lectures, and even conferences will provide for an art structure that looks at and interrogates these cultural commonalities and interlaced relationships.

The Marrakech Biennale 6 will consist of the main exhibition curated by Reem Fadda and assistant curator Ilaria Conti. It will also include interjections by collaborating curators, Omar Berrada, Salma Lahlou and Fatima-Zahra Lakrissa. Simultaneously, a selection of Partner and Parallel Projects will also be on view across various parts of the city.

Main Exhibition[edit]

Participating artists: Talal Afifi, Haig Aivazian, El Anatsui, Tarek Atoui, Kader Attia, Dana Awartani, Yto Barrada, Isak Berbic, Dineo Seshee Bopape, Farid Belkahia, Ahmed Bouanani, Touda Bouanani, Mohamed Chebaa, Manthia Diawara, Melvin Edwards, Ali Essafi, Khalil El Ghrib, Sam Gilliam, David Hammons, Mohssin Harraki, Mona Hatoum, Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti, Saba Innab, Bouchra Khalili, Radhika Khimji, Rachid Koraichi, Alvin D. Loving, Khaled Malas, Djibril Diop Mambéty, Jumana Manna, Ahmed Mater, Megumi Matsubara, Mohammed Melehi, Naeem Mohaiemen, Mohamed Mourabiti, Radouan Mriziga, Oscar Murillo, Sara Ouhaddou, Juan Asis Palao, Khalil Rabah, SUPERFLEX, Rayyane Tabet, The Otolith Group, Eric Van Hove, Adrián Villar Rojas, Fatiha Zemmouri.

Parallel Projects[edit]

Estabrak Al-Ansari - Oman / Leila Alaoui – Morocco/France / Yasmina Alaoui – Morocco/France / Heba Y. Amin – Egypt / Younes Atbane – Morocco / Emma Brack – Canada/Norway / Saddie Choua – Belgium / Céline Croze – France/Morocco / Sara Frikech and Lucas Ter Hall – Netherlands / Houda Ghorbel et Wadi Mhiri – Tunisia / Marco Guerra – United States / Nadine Hattom - Iraq/Australia / Mouna Jemal Siala – Tunisia / Emo de Medeiros – Benin / Nadia Mounier – Egypt / Patrick Morarescu – Germany / Baerbel Mueller, Juergen Strohmayer, Stefanie Theuretzbacher - Austria / Amine Oulmakki – Morocco / Ben Rivers – England / Wendimimagegn Gashaw - Ethiopia / Mohamed Abdelkarim – Egypt / Chourouk Hriech – France/Morocco / Fana Wogi / Aida Muluneh / Emanuel Tegene / Ephrem Solomon / Tamrat Gezahengne.

Arts in public space: Blond & Gilles – Switzerland / Allard Van Hoorn – Netherlands / Zbel Manifesto – Morocco / Anahita Razmi – Germany

Partner Projects[edit]


External links[edit]