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Boldly Bringing New Art to Old Morocco

In a former branch of the Banque du Maroc earlier this autumn, sound from a dozen video installations met the cacophony of the historic Djemaa el-Fna square, where food vendors peddled their fare to tourists, snake charmers lined up their cobras and monkeys were paraded on leashes. At dusk, a call to prayer sounded from the Koutoubia Mosque’s landmark minaret.
“It’s a symbolic act to be here,” Hicham Daoudi, founder of the Marrakesh Art Fair, said as he looked out at the teeming agora where 16 people were killed in a terrorist bombing in April.
The exhibition “Images Affranchies,” showing video art and photography from important young Moroccan and Middle Eastern artists, was part of the fair’s desire to reach out to Marrakesh residents who have little experience with contemporary art and may have been put off by a visit to the fair’s white-walled booths at the luxurious Es Saadi Palace, where the well-heeled sipped Champagne and nibbled hors d’oeuvres on a rambunctious opening night.
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