AMA Grantees / 2009
|Grantee||James Webb, visual artist|
|Departure||Cape Town, South Africa (Southern Africa)|
|Destination||Marrakech, Morocco (North Africa)|
|Mobility project||I participated in the prestigious 3rd Arts In Marrakech biennale, curated by Abdellah Karroum. This was my first visit to Maroc. The works I presented linked both countries through themes of religious and social issues, as well as motifs of displacement and exoticism..|
|Excerpt of the report||I met wonderful local artists from Maroc as well as international artists from around the world. These meetings have lead to collaborations as well as invitations for myself to work in their countries, and prospects of them working in South Africa. I believe I also learnt a lot about my own practise in terms of setting up exhibitions in foreign spaces, as well as the nature of networking with artists and people from countries that are new to me.
An important lesson is to be open to all the new difficulties and challenges that working in a foreign country might present. Thinking back, I can now imagine alternative solutions for works and situations, and these lessons will go on to further my own work experience.
Language was a hurdle, but I have resolved to learn French. I would love to learn Arabic too. I also befriended many local artists who helped me enormously with translation and sourcing the various materials that I needed to complete my projects. Another difficulty was sourcing information and equipment in a city such as Marrakech. Luckily, as I work with sound, there were plenty of roadside audio shops that could help me. There weren’t any framing shops, though… The best way to overcome any of these hurdles is to make local friends. This is also the only way to properly immerse yourself in the local culture and environment. It’s too easy to just be a tourist in these situations, and to take the leap and befriend someone makes all the difference. This is a wonderful way to meet new people, expand your network and gain priceless insights into a place like Marrakech.
Abdellah Karroum has invited me to undertake a residency in Rabat in 2010, and this will allow me to further deepen my connections there and create work that goes beyond simple, tourist understandings of the country and the region. I have also met with many artists from Egypt (such as Hassan Khan) and Maroc, as well as other “Middle Eastern” artists (Ninar Esber, Ala’ Younis, etc.) and I will seek exhibition opportunities for them in South Africa. I have also just opened an exhibition in Cape Town’s premier independent art space, Blank Projects (http://www.blankprojects.com/1001-james-webb.php) that links specifically to my participation on Abdellah Karroum’s biennale. This is an important link for me as I wish to share my experience and work from Marrakech with my contemporaries and network in South Africa. I will be creating a PDF catalogue for this exhibition.