While it is true that these days there is definitely more coverage of events taking place in North Africa and the Middle East, it is still relatively difficult to get a sense of how active and involved are the art scenes in this ever changing area. Beyond the occasional feel-good story about an individual artist here and there who defies his/her harsh background and an unforgiving society to perform/sing/write/paint about issues that matter to him/her, we rarely hear about grassroots and impressive youth organized and youth-oriented events. In a rather bleak and depressing political landscape-pre/during/post-"Arab Spring", there is nonetheless a handful of youth-oriented initiatives that are quite remarkable in their message, organization and reach. l'Boulevard of Casablanca, Morocco is one such example.
The reason why I am writing about this today is that I have been thinking about a new and fledgeling festival for alternative music in Carthage, Tunisia, that has had a hard time taking off due to the current political climate in the country. I am hoping that this would not be the last we hear of this great cultural initiative put together by creative young talents. Below you will find the poster for the event as well as a video preview for the ad campaign. Maybe in a few years time, this festival will be as big and as successfull as the similarly inspired and youth organized l'Boulevard of Casablanca for which I also included the poster as well the video ad below. The video ad is a wonderful example of a very creative young Moroccan generation that is deeply rooted with its cultural heritage but that refuses to be limited and cut off from the rest of the world. The computer generated animation borrows one of the most common symbols of Moroccan cuisine --الكسكاس-- the steamer top from a couscous maker and turns it into a flying saucer of sorts. This is not the first time technology and a couscous maker come together, I remember in the 1980s at the height of Hassan II's control over the media and the press how the same cooking pot became the symbol of country dying for a freer media and press. Thousands of couscous steamers left their places in the kitchen and ended up ontop of aerial antennas. The common wisdom at the time was that the aluminium body of these steamers worked as a great receptor for TV signals. The target obviously was foreign TV signals coming from neighboring Spain and also Algeria and which provided other sources of entertaintment programming but also, and more importantly, alternative narratives to Hassan II's official media machine. So whether perched ontop of an antena to catch foreign TV signals or whizzing up in the air over Casablanca's neighborhoods à-la-Spielberg, this most common kitchen object continues to point to alternative narratives and and a vibrant imagination.
l'Boulevard is quite a success story