News & Events,Spring 2018

Friday 04/06/2018

Nidhal Chamekh. Trois Poses de Fadhel Sessi (2016); burned bread and charcoal on canvas. © Adagp, 2018.

Quijote Talk: Omar Berrada

Ways of Witnessing
April 19, 2018
132 West 21st Street, 6th floor
Free and open to the public 
In the 1960s, in the wake of Independence from French rule, a whole generation of artists and writers from Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia engaged in a process of cultural reclamation. The colonizer had withdrawn like a tide, leaving broken, at times unrecognizable fragments of native culture stranded on the shore. Writers cultivated metaphors of digging and unearthing. Visual artists carried out research projects that bore the mark of auto-ethnography. A people was missing, a culture was dying: the role of the artist was both to witness the absence and to attempt something akin to a resurrection. With this background in mind, Omar Berrada will look at the practices of a few contemporary artists working today, several decades after Independence. After the rise and fall of hopes for democracy in the region, a people is still missing and artists are still compelled to bear witness. In her videos, Bouchra Khalili listens to the voices and accents of workers and migrants. In his drawings, Nidhal Chamekh attempts to do justice to a collective memory that turns into dream. In his sculptures, M’barek Bouhchichi samples social facts and converts them into sensorial shapes. Through the various forms of their testimonies, they enact survivals, affirm presences, and establish continuities within a stubbornly unstable social body.
Omar Berrada is a writer and curator, and the director of Dar al-Ma’mûn, a library and artists residency in Marrakech. Previously, he organized public programs at Centre Pompidou, hosted shows on French national radio, ran Tangier’s International Book Salon, and co-directed Dubai’s Global Art Forum. His translations (into French) include books by Jalal Toufic, Stanley Cavell, and Joan Retallack. His poetry was published in Wave Composition, Asymptote, Seedings, and the University of California Book of North African Literature, among others. He recently edited The Africans, a book on migration and racial politics in Morocco, and curated exhibitions centering on the work and archive of writer and filmmaker Ahmed Bouanani at the Marrakech Biennale and at Witte de With in Rotterdam. Omar was the guest curator of the 2017 Abraaj Group Art Prize and is a co-editor of Sharjah Biennial’s web journal Currently living in New York, he teaches at Cooper Union and is organizing the upcoming 1-54 Forum.
Quijote Talks take place in our library on 21st Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues in Chelsea, usually on Thursdays at 6:30 pm. Named after our favorite after-lecture hangout, El Quijote in the Chelsea Hotel, and inspired by the knight errant himself, this new series consists of pointed talks and discussions about relevant pasts and possible futures. See our full lecture series archive here