ONE OF THE THINGS that makes the contemporary art scene in Morocco so difficult to grasp—and so unlike the cultural infrastructures existing elsewhere in the region—is the fact that it has no center. Casablanca is the commercial hub, Rabat the seat of government. Asilah and Essaouira host major annual festivals for art and music. Tangier lays claim to the literary imagination. Marrakech, with its eleven-year-old film festival and two-year-old art fair, is the destination of choice for an incongruous mix of jet-setting expats, holidaymakers on a budget, and riad-refurbishing fashionistas quick to follow in Yves Saint Laurent’s footsteps. Galleries tend to cluster in Casablanca and Rabat. Serious museums are nonexistent. But in the past decade, an impressive network of independent spaces and artist-led initiatives has spread throughout the country, aided by the ease of inter-city travel and an art-historical narrative that has long assimilated efforts that are ephemeral, episodic, and dispersed.
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