Roaming Assembly 31: The Seven Colors of the Universe

Roaming Assembly 31: The Seven Colors of the Universe

Dutch Art Institute (DAI)

Photo: Laila Hida, 2019.

April 15, 2024
Roaming Assembly 31: The Seven Colors of the Universe
Curated by Laila Hida / Le 18
April 23, 2024
Dar Souiri
Association Essaouira Mogador
10 avenue du Caire
44000 Essaouira
Instagram / Instagram

Flashback to mid March 2020: hosted in Sidi Bou Said  by our alum, curator Aziza Harmel, DAI was first introduced to the Sufi spiritual traditions of North Africa during the unforgettable Roaming Assembly #27, convened by then partner sonsbeek20-24 with guest curator Beya Othmani. While we danced till dawn to the rythm of the “krakebs”, the world woke up, frozen in the nightmare of the global pandemic which brought our confluence in Tunis to a panic stricken, premature ending.

Fast forward to “Fluid Now”: DAI returns to the Maghreb for study and exchange, this time teaming up with Le 18 from Marrakech. Founding member Laila Hida, artist and cultural worker interested in exploring the structures and dynamics underlying systems of representation and belief through the production of images, is the convener of Roaming Assembly #31, public event to be hosted by Dar Souiri in Essaouira, entitled:

The Seven Colors of the Universe
There are certainly more colors to the universe, and even more ways of looking at them and of understanding them. In her tireless quest to uncover what lies behind the Lila Derdeba, ritual of possession of the Gnawa master musicians, anthropologist Viviana Pâques reflects on the connection between Western human sciences and the abstraction of African religions. 

In the film that gives its name to this Roaming Assembly, filmaker Jacques Willemont interviews her on the relationship to Maalem Ayachi, her informant, with whom she entertains discontinuous, fragmented and opaque conversations, through which an interpretation of this ritual is revealed.

About two decades later, in 1988, Congolese philosopher Valentin-Yves Mudimbe’s “The Invention of Africa” revealed the mechanisms behind the concept of Africa, introducing the idea of the colonial library, a collection of ideas and representations produced by the West that define and shape perception, understanding, fascination and enduring attraction to Africa as a subject of research.     

However, his notion of Gnosis that opposes Foucault’s Episteme, opens a breach to the possibility of an “authentic African” knowledge, absolute and unmediated. A model of knowledge typical of African initiation and mystical societies. It is from this concept that we would like to unfold a series of practices that address modes of learning and transmission, but preserve the right to opacity while ensuring the circulation of knowledge.

Through this invitation to artists, researchers, performers, musicians we aim to listen, move with, learn from diverse forms of transmission and languages that can or cannot be understood or apprehended. From the cryptic style of protest poetry of the Ghiwanes to the lament of the Aita singers; words, tones, and ritual spaces serve as transmitters of subtle and encoded messages of a fragmented history.

Fatima-Zahra Lakrissa, curator, researcher, intervenes from her recent text “Turning Frozen Yesterdays into Fluid Now”.

Yvon Langue, designer, curator, writer and Maalem Hadir, Gnawa musician will perform a text from Nass El Ghiwan, influential music group in North Africa. With their protest songs, they navigated the Years of Lead in Morocco, avoiding censorship by complexifying language. 

Bouchra Ouizguen, dancer and choreographer, interested in popular music and performance  traditions, mainly using live sound and the voice, as an outlet for raw joy and sorrow. She will be accompanied by Milouda El Maataoui and Halima Sahmoud for interactive sound and movement sessions.

Ghassan El Hakim, theatre director,  researcher and Amine Nawmy,  performer and journalist are both members of Kabareh Chikhates. They are currently following the trace of Moroccan Blackness through the speculative map drawn by Master Musician of Gnawa Abdellah Al Gourd, representing ancient routes of slaves from Sub-Saharan countries to the Mediterranean.

Gilles Aubry, artist, musician, researcher will present a piece which showcases sung poetry and ecological voices from the Taghia Canyon in the Moroccan Atlas. The water spring within this canyon holds special significance, revered as a sanctuary for Nana Agouti, a Saint considered the mother of the community.

Outro: special DJ guest.

Aziza Harmel will join us from Tunesia to write a mediation on Roaming Assembly #31. 

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Dutch Art Institute (DAI)
April 15, 2024

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