First Visual Arts Festival held in Rabat
Casablanca - Morocco marked the 40th anniversary of the “Green March” with its first Visual Arts Festival in Rabat. The event looks to commemorate the march for future generations through the arts.
The festival, held November 3rd- 15th, was organised by the Higher National Council of Green March Volunteers, referred to by its French initials HCNVMV, at the headquarters of the wilayah of Rabat.
Moulay Abdel Moughit Lahjomri, HCNVMV general coordinator, said the festival’s aim was to emphasise late Moroccan King Hassan II’s historic speech in which he called on Moroccan citizens to go on a “Green March” to claim Spanish Sahara.
On November 6, 1975, about 350,000 unarmed volunteers from across Morocco responded to the king’s call. Undeterred by the Spanish military and brandishing Moroccan flags, Qurans and portraits of the king, the marchers crossed into Sakia Lhamra, forcing Spain to agree to cede the colony to Morocco and Mauritania.
The festival boasted 37 artists showing 35 paintings and three sculptures. Festival curator Najoua Hassouni said the artists are from different Moroccan cities, including Laayoune and Boujdour.
Malian artist Dialo Mamari, who has fond ties with Morocco, also participated in the festival.
Perhaps the most striking artwork was a huge sculpture by Abdellah Boukil. The 3.5-metre-tall and 1.9-metre-wide work is a chef d’oeuvre that took Boukil three months to develop. It is constructed of Saharan desert sand as a sign of his love to Morocco.
Abdel Ilah Sakhi said the sculpture was strongly noticeable and very symbolic.
“It is an abstract piece of art which is quite schematic. We can feel the presence of nature in the sculpture,” said Sakhi, a professor of visual arts.
“This sculpture is the fruit of three months of work. Every sand grain represents every single volunteer motivated by their faith and patriotism who avidly marched in the desert to free the Sahara from the Spanish colonialists,” said Boukil, adding that the marchers believed that the Sahara is part of Morocco.
Unlike previous sculptures, Boukil’s artwork is particularly symbolic because the Moroccan artist recalls very well the day of the Green March, which he said he would have participated in had his age allowed him. “We can see the structure of a standing lion who withstands all sorts of aggression,” he stressed.
Boukil wanted to offer the sculpture to Sweden following the political crisis between Morocco and the Scandinavian country over Stockholm’s plan to recognise the chimerical Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.
“It’s with culture and arts that we can disseminate the message to Sweden that the Western Sahara is an undisputed part of Morocco,” noted the artist, who said he came up with the idea for the sculpture before knowing about the festival.
Hassouni said: “We seek to highlight the profound meanings of the Green March and the union between Morocco’s north and south throughout the exhibition.
“It is also an opportunity to instil this historic event into the memory of the coming generation through arts.”