Marrakech, Morocco / LE 18

Known as ‘the Garden City’, Marrakech, Morocco was shaped by the careful management of water. Underground channels, called qanats or khettaras, supplied the city with water and created a unique, sustainable way of life.

But the system was dismissed and dismantled by French colonial policies and later by the independent state in the name of modernity. Similarly, the rich traditional life of Marrakech is undergoing rapid socio-cultural change as a surge in tourism and foreign investment transforms the city.

What legacy do the traditional systems of water management have today? And what effect has their decline had on residents’ relationship with water and, more generally, with common goods and public spaces?

LE 18 will host three artists in its riad, in the heart of Marrakech’s medina, and invite them to contribute to Qanat, an ongoing research project exploring the politics and poetics of water in Morocco.

Adopting water as a critical entry point, the artists will explore the collective memories and social practices of the city’s inhabitants, and the role that art can play in urban and societal change.

Established in 2013, LE 18 is a multidisciplinary cultural space in Marrakech’s medina, which brings together research, creation and expression.

LE 18 supports local emerging artists by connecting them with the international art scene. It also encourages reflection on the role of contemporary art in the city and the region through research and residency programmes, exhibitions and public gatherings. Located in the medina, LE 18 offers a unique vantage point from which to engage with the traditional life of the city, and to critically examine the sociocultural transformations it is undergoing.

The space has developed in dialogue with the city’s existing cultural scene, and has formed long-term partnerships with local and national artistic and educational institutions. LE 18 hosts both artists and researchers in residence throughout the year, and its programme develops through a number of thematic projects, such as Dabaphoto, which explores contemporary photographic practices.

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