North Africa Cultural Mobility Map is a research project about mobility initiatives for artists, writers and researchers from all over the world interested in traveling to North Africa. Furthermore the project aims at facilitating opportunities for artists, writers and researchers from this region to travel and develop projects within North Africa. Our aim is to promote a better understanding of the cultural and socio-politic context of the region while at the same time strengthen cultural dialogue and collaboration between north african counties.

 

In order to achieve these goals the project will facilitate:

 

  • A county by country database of mobility programs operating in the region.
  • Video interviews to different Artist in Residency Programs coordinators.
  • Information about networking and funding opportunities.
  • resources section with Artist in Residency Networks and other useful websites.
  • research tool with relevant on line, bibliography, creative projects and experiences on the topic of cultural mobility in North Africa.

 

North Africa Cultural Mobility Map is by no means a complete project but an open and organic on line portal. Its aim is to become an info-platform and a space from where to discuss the traditions and contradictions, interests and imbalances of cultural mobility in the region.

 

Critical Cartographies of Cultural Mobility is the research section of the North Africa Cultural Mobility Map.

Critical Cartographies of Cultural Mobility critically and creatively document the recent dissemination of Artist in Residency (A.I.R) programs in North Africa.

Context

The social and political events that have marked North Africa recent history have opened the door to the development of new creative products and new cultural initiatives in the region. Indeed after a period of instability and expectation, now it seems possible to talk about the promotion of the North Africa region as a ‘New Art Territory’. As this project will argue this situation is in fact in need of a critical analysis as although it is necessary to develop and create new networks for cultural initiatives to be better interconnected, share skills and knowledge the development of this ‘New Art Territory’ can also promote the expansion of an ‘art market’ that either cannibalizes difference or mystifies otherness.

A.I.Rs exist to invite artists for a time and space away from their usual environment. They provide a time for reflection, research, production and/or presentation of their work. As underlined by the same programs A.I.R value is enormous for the development of artistic practices through what is called intercultural exchange. This research will try to demonstarte that besides its heterogeneity and valuable inputs, the phenomenon of the A.I.Rs creative model in the 21st century must be rethought as processes of economic commodification, compulsive nomadism and cultural globalization could undermine the positive contributions that A.I.Rs have achieve so far. Indeed, during the last 20 years the mobility of the so called creative class has undergone a fundamental development. The increasing circulation of people, goods, and data have created new cultural, social and virtual landscapes which cannot be described by traditional categories and respond the specific contexts that have emerged from Globalization.

If we take Morocco as a study case we can see that 2012 has been a crucial year for the development of new artistic infrastructures. The celebration of the 4thMarrakesh Biennale, the inauguration of the 1st Casablanca Biennale, the opening of the Center of Modern Art in Tetouan or the blossoming of five new Artists in Residence initiatives that summed up to the five already existing are a clear sign that something is changing in Morocco. There are at least two other indicators of such a change not only in Morocco but also in the Maghreb area.  On one hand we have witnessed the publication of a body of literature that is specific to this situation and often underlines the dangers of looking at this area as an artistically empty space that is waiting to be filled up. One should not forget though that in fact the creative tradition of the region is paradigmatic and contemporary art has a long history here too. On the other hand, the plethora of conferences and meetings discussing the issue of artistic mobility and cultural exchange that have appeared in the Arab geography. From Marrakesh to Sharja, from Alexandria or el Cairo to Beirut we can map out a series of events that have as a common denominator the presence of cultural experts, curators and art managers that meet up to discus how to react to the new situation and figure out the best way to move forwards.

While acknowledging the importance of A.I.R to foster innovation and cultural exchange ‘Critical Cartographies of Cultural Mobility’ is a resource that aims to put on the table a much needed debate focused on the never ending creation of ‘New Art Territories’ and the expansion of A.I.R that more often than expected neglect existing cultural structures and artistic traditions. In a moment where the same conception of A.I.R is being put into question and the look for new models is becoming more of a necessity than an option, ‘Critical Cartographies of Cultural Mobility’ tries to look into the socio-cultural context of the Maghreb and the Arab tradition the paths from where to learn new approaches to artistic mobility and creativity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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