Diverse cultural heritage, dynamic young scene
Thanks to European, Berber, African and Arab influences, Morocco’s culture is very diverse. Moroccan artists from the fields of music, theater, literature, poetry, painting and film are sometimes very successful internationally. King Mohammed VI is an important sponsor, especially of the fine arts. The royal family also supports various initiatives and festivals, for example the Hiba Fondation in Rabat, which operates the Renaissance cinema and the café of the same name, and which also organizes the renowned music and culture festival Visa for Music every November.
In addition to such more or less publicly financed major events, which also help those in power to cultivate their image, there are independent cultural projects in Casablanca, Tangier, Rabat and Marrakech, which are mostly carried out by young people. The financing here comes partly from public budgets and partly from private. The situation of these private projects is sometimes difficult. One of the most ambitious initiatives, the artist workshop in the former slaughterhouse in Casablanca (Abattoirs), was closed after more than 15 years due to a lack of municipal funding. The future of another project, “Uzine”, also in Casablanca, is uncertain. The independent cultural organization “Racines” was allegedly dissolved by a court order in early 2019 because of a video critical of the government.
Internationally known painters include Abbas Saladi, Mohammed Kacimi and Chaibia Talal. Mahi Binnebine from Marrakech is one of the younger generation. Several new art museums have opened their doors in Morocco in recent years, including the Mohammed VI Museum in Rabat. for modern art, as well as the Musée Yves Saint Laurent in Marrakech.
From October 15, 2014 to March 1, 2015, the Institut du Monde Arabe presented under the patronage of President François Hollande and King Mohammed VI. the most comprehensive exhibition to date on the art and culture of modern Morocco. In collaboration with the Fondation Nationale des Musées du Royaume du Maroc, cross-genre works from the fields of sculpture, architecture, design, comics, cinema, music, dance, theater, literature, handicrafts and the art of living were presented – works by a total of 80 living artists from Morocco. The Louvre also paid tribute to medieval Morocco: under the title “Medieval Morocco: An Empire from Africa to Spain”, the Paris National Museum showed around 300 exhibits.
According to neovideogames, many first-class writers from Morocco have been translated into German. Mahi Binebine and Youssouf Amine Elalamy are among the most prominent novelists, who deal with hot topics such as Islamism and clandestine migration in their books.
The candidate for the Nobel Prize for Literature is the novelist Tahar Ben Jelloun (* 1944), who wrote the novels “Return” (Berlin 2010) and “With lowered eyes” (Reinbek 1994). Other classics are Driss Chraibi (1926-2007), author of amusing crime novels such as “Inspector Ali in Trinity College” (Zurich 2002) and the Arabic-speaking writer Mohammed Choukri (1935-2003), author of “Das nackte Brot” (Munich 1996). The gay Moroccan novelist Abdellah Taia deals with recent Moroccan history and the handling of homosexuality in Morocco. His novel “Le Jour du Roi” (Paris 2010) has been translated into German.
The cultural diversity and special spirituality of Morocco have also inspired generations of foreign writers. The legendary anthology “Tanger-Telegramm”, edited by Florian Vetsch and Boris Kerenski (Bilgerverlag, Zurich 2005), offers an excellent introduction.
The sociologist Fatima Mernissi (* 1940) has written both informative and entertaining essays on the subject of women, Islam and modernity. “Gender, Ideology, Islam” (Munich 1998) and “The Harem in Us” (autobiography, Freiburg 2005) are also standard works in gender research.
The book ” Flaneur between Orient and Occident. ” Provides information about a little-known but extremely exciting chapter of German-Maghreb post-war history“(Mainz 2002) The German journalist Mourad Kusserow tells how he worked on a return service for German Foreign Legionnaires from Algeria from northern Morocco in the 1950’s.
Morocco has a very rich, diverse music scene, which is fed by Arab, African and Berber traditions and which is also oriented towards the global music scene. Concerts or festivals take place almost every day somewhere in the country. The Gnawa Festival in Essaouira, the Festival of Sacred Music in Fez; the Boulevard des Jeunes Musiciens and the jazz festival in Tangier have become permanent fixtures in the international music scene in recent years and have contributed to Moroccan musicians becoming internationally known beyond their national borders. The ambitious Mawazine festival is partly controversial – because of the often criticized festival president and royal advisor Mounir Al Majidi, because of the high costs for the Moroccan state and because of the expensive tickets.
Numerous world-class musicians come from Morocco: the singer and overall artist Sapho from Marrakech has lived in France for over 40 years, but has always remained loyal to Morocco and the Arab world. Gnawa guitarist and singer Majid Bekkas has played with Klaus Doldinger and Joachim Kühn, among others.