March 13, 2020 - KW Institute for Contemporary Art - The School of Casablanca
March 13, 2020

KW Institute for Contemporary Art / Sharjah Art Foundation

First Art History course dedicated to Africa by Art Historian and Anthropologist Toni Maraini, Casablanca School of Fine Arts, 1965. Courtesy Toni Maraini Archive. Photo: Mohamed Melehi.

The School of Casablanca

École Municipale des Beaux-Arts
20 Boulevard Rachidi

KW Institute for Contemporary Art and Sharjah Art Foundation, in collaboration with Goethe-Institut Marokko and ThinkArt, are pleased to initiate a collaborative venture in 2020–2022 evolving around the approach of the School of Casablanca—a group that developed innovative education and exhibition strategies in 1960s Morocco.
Drawing on and interpreting the Bauhaus Manifesto in the 1960s and 1970s, the School of Casablanca engaged models of rethinking the relationship between arts, crafts, design, and architecture within a local context. Recommencing this engagement after the centennial of the Bauhaus, the collaborative venture seeks to further the legacy of the School of Casablanca in contemporary thought. This aim proves to be important not only within a Moroccan context, but also in relation to critical reflection on the traditions of Western methodology and self-perception.

An integral part of the venture is a residency in Casablanca that will take place from May 2020 to May 2022, during which time residents will conduct research, produce new work, and create a public program focused on the subject(s) addressed in their research. The six invited residents are Céline Condorelli, Fatima-Zahra Lakrissa, Marion von Osten, Manuel Raeder, Bik Van der Pol, and Abdeslam Ziou Ziou.

The collaborative venture will include a conference titled “The School of Casablanca: Pioneering innovative strategies for the production and transmission of forms of knowledge—Learning from the legacies of the School of Casablanca today” featuring keynotes, talks, and workshops by Brahim Alaoui, Rajae BenchemsiNadia Chabâa, Bert Flint, Mustapha HafidMohamed Hamidi, Peter Kortmann, Toni Maraini, Mohamed Melehi, and Marcelo Rezende, among others. The conference is realized in collaboration with ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) and will be held in Fall 2020 at the École Municipale des Beaux-Arts in Casablanca, Morocco. 

For upcoming information on the conference and the project, please visit the website of the School of Casablanca.

About the School of Casablanca
Created in the 1920s and officially inaugurated in 1951 by the French protectorate, the École Municipale des Beaux-Arts (Casablanca School of Fine Arts) was an innovative institution in 1960s Morocco. After Moroccan independence in 1956, civic awareness rose, impacting both artists and intellectuals seeking to reconsider their social function and visibility in the public sphere. Through this process, the artist became the producer of a social and cultural project, in which art was expected to become a space of shared knowledge and experience. In the midst of this post-colonial artistic and cultural renewal, artists Farid Belkahia (1934–2014), Mohamed Chabâa (1935–2013), and Mohamed Melehi (born in 1936, MA) formed the Casablanca Group at the Casablanca School of Fine Arts. They were later joined by Mohamed Hamidi (born in 1941, MA), Mustapha Hafid (born in 1942, MA), and Mohamed Ataallah (1934–2014). 

Supported by art historian and anthropologist, Toni Maraini (born in 1941, JP), and researcher of popular arts and rural tradition, Bert Flint (born in 1931, NL), the group, now referring to themselves as the School of Casablanca, pioneered innovative and multidisciplinary education and exhibition strategies that rejected the Western academic tradition and epistemology. The School of Casablanca engaged in a number of field-research projects to study and re-appropriate traditional crafts as well as urban and rural architecture. They created the publication Maghreb Art and produced exhibitions in urban spaces titled Présence plastique—the most memorable act of which remains the 1969 manifesto exhibition in Marrakesh’s Jamaâ el Fna Square. During the 1960s, and over the following decade, the School of Casablanca realized important architectural projects for public infrastructure—termed Les Intégrations—in collaboration with architects Patrice de Mazières (born in 1930, MA) and Abdeslam Faraoui (born in 1928, MA).

Krist Gruijthuijsen
, Director, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin
Hoor Al Qasimi, Director, Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah
Salma Lahlou, Independent Curator and Founder, ThinkArt, Casablanca
Inka Gressel, Director, ifa-Gallery Berlin 
Alya Sebti, Director, ifa-Gallery Berlin (parental leave)

About KW Institute for Contemporary Art

KW Institute for Contemporary Art aims to approach the central questions of our times through the production, display, and dissemination of contemporary art. Since its inception more than 25 years ago, KW has established itself, not only as an institution, but also as a dynamic and lively space for progressive practices within the Berlin art scene, as well as in an international context. By means of exhibitions and various event formats, KW has aligned itself towards the current tendencies of the national and international art and cultural discourse, and has actively developed them on a collaborative level with artists, institutions, and by means of commissioned works.

About Sharjah Art Foundation
Sharjah Art Foundation is an advocate, catalyst and producer of contemporary art. Established in 2009 to expand programmes beyond the Sharjah Biennial, which launched in 1993, the Foundation encourages a shared understanding of the transformational role of art through the annual March Meeting, year-round exhibitions, film and music programmes, education and community outreach programmes, grants, residencies, commissions and publications. Sharjah Art Foundation is a legally independent public body established by Emiri Decree and supported by government funding, grants from national and international nonprofits and cultural organisations, corporate sponsors and individual patrons.

About Goethe-Institut Marokko
The Goethe-Institut Marokko is the Moroccan branch of the Federal Republic of Germany’s cultural institute, which is active worldwide and promotes the study of German language abroad as well as encourages international cultural exchange.

About ifa
ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) is Germany’s intermediary organization for international cultural relations. It promotes peaceful and enriching coexistence between people and cultures worldwide. ifa supports artistic and cultural exchange in exhibition, dialogue, and conference programs, and acts as a center of excellence for international cultural relations. It is part of a global network and relies on sustainable, long-term partnerships. It is supported by the Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany, the state of Baden-Württemberg and its capital Stuttgart.

About ThinkArt
ThinkArt was founded by Salma Lahlou in 2015 and sets up a dynamic range of meetings, reflections, and exhibitions around contemporary creation and curatorial practices.

Project Coordination
Salma Lahlou, independent curator and Founder, ThinkArt
info [​at​]

Press Contact
Karoline Köber, Head of Press and Communication, KW Institute for Contemporary Art
kk [​at​]

Sofie Krogh Christensen, Trainee, KW Institute for Contemporary Art
skc [​at​]

Alyazeyah Al Reyaysa, Senior Press and Media Coordinator, Sharjah Art Foundation
alyazeyah [​at​]

KW Institute for Contemporary Art is institutionally supported by the Senate Department for Culture and Europe.

The School of Casablanca is initiated by KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, and Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, in collaboration with Goethe-Institut Marokko and ThinkArt, Casablanca. 

The conference “The School of Casablanca: Pioneering innovative strategies for the production and transmission of forms of knowledge—Learning from the legacies of the School of Casablanca today” is realized with additional support of ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen).

KW Institute for Contemporary Art
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