September 10, 2017

Street art burgeoning in bustling Casablanca

Carte blanche. Mural painting on a wall in El Massira Boulevard. (Saad Guerraoui)

Casablanca - Street art and performanc¬es in bustling Casablanca have been burgeoning in recent years with murals, theatrical performances, live music and acrobats filling its walls and spaces.
The “Urban Art Wave” project has given Moroccan street artists carte blanche to redraw the face of Casablanca.
Unlocking culture by taking art to Casablanca’s neighbour¬hoods is one of the objectives of the Casamouja-Urban Art Wave programme, which is an integral part of the WeCasablanca attrac¬tiveness approach. WeCasablanca is an organisation created to pro¬mote the territorial Metropolitan- Casablanca brand, a statement on its official website said.

Sbagha Bagha is another street art initiative, which is managed by the Eac-L’Boulvart Association.
Salah Malouli, artistic director of Sbagha Bagha, said the idea for the initiative came while he was living in Barcelona. “We are preparing for this year’s edition, which will be in October. It will be completely independent from L’Boulevard Festival,” Malouli said.
“We now fully insist on local artists, whether they are special¬ised in graffiti or mural paintings, because we want to give them the opportunity to shine in the Sbagha Bagha Casablanca Street Art Festi¬val,” he said.
Malouli said street art is winning hearts and minds of renowned in¬ternational artists, which is proof that Moroccan artists are improv¬ing.
“Some Moroccan artists are now making a living from this art. This shows that it’s not a hobby any¬more to fill the time with,” said Malouli.
Emerging talent Mehdi Gero, 24, painted murals for a cube-shaped fortress in the Al Hank neighbourhood along with two other artists as part of Sbagha Bagha. Gero said: “The experience was exhilarating, which allowed me to interact with my fellow artists and exchange ideas and skills.”
Far from the walls, Moham¬med V Square was turned into an open-air theatre on a June evening hosting “The Tale of Noses,” an adaptation of an African tale that tackled a thorny is¬sue in the Moroccan society. A packed audience watched the play that denounced racism against sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco.
United Nations Square in the heart of Casablanca is seeing an influx of musicians, acrobats and hip-hop dancers as it becomes a lively part of the street-art scene.
Casablanca’s street artists are required to obtain authorisation from the prefecture to perform in public places but many break the rule because response times are lengthy.
“I came from Hay Mohammedi district to watch street singers be¬cause I was told that the ambiance is great in here,” said Nabila, 21. “We really need some entertain¬ment in public squares all over Casablanca because this city is very stressful in all ways.”
Mohammed Ghassou disagreed.
“Look how filthy the square is. It’s a lawlessness and disorder! This so-called street art draws street vendors, too, who have made this historic place a mess. What would tourists say about this filth?” he asked.

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