Global Collaboration: Morocco

For Field – Term 2, I’m lucky to have the opportunity to visit Morocco (or I should say Kingdom of Morocco) for a week. Morocco is the most west influenced country in North of Africa. Its rich culture is a blend of Arabs, Berber, African, Mediterranean, European and oriental influences. Majority of Moroccan culture is inherited from the Berber people, self-named Amazigh (plural Amazighen). There were about 14 million of Berber people in Morocco. The Amazigh plays an important role in the spreading of language and way of life in the Sahara and the Maghreb. It was the Arabs who first enlisted Berber skills in riding & fighting as their army for the conquest of Spain, who gave those people a new name, turning barbarian (speakers of a language other than Greek and Latin) into Barbar, the name of a race descended from Noah. It was then the Arabs began the islamisation. Some Berbers also became Christians and Jews.

The roots of the Berber culture reach deep down into Morocco’s proto-history. They have strong link with their land, a sense of community, hospitality, sharing food and a specific relationship with spirituality. Its openness to many influences whether Mediterranean, African, Oriental, European, or international have helped define its current characteristics. Their art/artefact/language is imbued with value (symbols, belief presented in shapes and colour). It is interesting as it can act as inspiration as well as parallel & integrate with the changing interests of modern culture, art and artists (i.e Henri Matisse and Paul Klee).

The newly discovered new principles of beauty… is nothing but an upstanding tradition whose origin we find in the work of “barbaric art”: the Egyptians, Assyrians, etc., This rediscovered tradition is the sword that smashed the chains of conventional academism and freed art, so that in colour and design (form) it could move from the darkness of slavery toward the path of bright springtime and freedom (Burliuk 1974:78).

What is consider to be ‘primitive’ is a western-centric view of the alien culture (i.e Amazigh culture & way of life or to be called as ‘the other’). Western view often prejudice the value of ‘primitive’ in whether what is ‘civilised’ and what is not. I’m interested in the use of ‘the other’ as representation by artists like Matisse and Klee. ‘The other’ valued pure/uncorrupted and direct mode of expression (use of shapes, geometric ornamentation, decorative pattern, and flat planes). Many modern artist use it as a way to opposed the process of modernisation in western society.

source: Berber People, The Berbers


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