Museums, Cultural Infrastructures, and Multiple Publics in Morocco
In this podcast, Katarzyna Pieprzak discusses her work on museums and experimental museology in Morocco. She proposes an expanded understanding of the museum, attending equally to physical museum sites, the ephemeral outdoor museum, as well as to the “discursive museum”. In doing so, Pieprzak explores how individuals and communities envision the role of museums in their personal and collective lives. What are their expectations towards cultural institutions, both existing and imagined ones? Pieprzak also sketches out her new book project titled Poetics of Repair: Artistic Afterlives of Modernist Mass Housing in the Maghreb, which argues that art sees, builds and imagines colonial-era mass housing and its residents in a way that architectural history, political science and sociology can not. For Pieprzak, art has the potential to trigger unexpected sensations and attachments, and in so doing, illuminate the connective fibers and relationships between structures, histories and the people they shape. She calls this “a poetics of repair”: an art practice that enjoins, connects or simply brings closer together broken relations, separated elements and severed histories.
Katarzyna Pieprzak is Professor of French and Comparative Literature and currently Chair of Arabic Studies at Williams College. Her research and teaching have focused on North African museums, modern and contemporary visual art, 20th-century Francophone literature, and art’s engagements with colonial modernist architecture (from bidonvilles to grand ensembles). She is the author of Imagined Museums: Art and Modernity in Postcolonial Morocco (University of Minnesota, 2010), co-editor of Land and Landscape in Francographic Literature, and co-editor of a special issue of Critical Interventions entitled Africanity and North Africa. Her current book in progress, Poetics of Repair: Artistic Afterlives of Modernist Mass Housing in the Maghreb, explores how visual, literary and performance-based art illuminates the connective fibers and missing relationships between built housing environments, histories and the people they shape, in Casablanca, Algiers and Nanterre. The book argues that this work is a poetics of repair: a de-colonial art practice that enjoins, connects or simply brings closer together broken relations, separated elements and severed histories.
This episode is part of the Modern Art in the Maghrib series, and was recorded on January 22, 2022, via zoom. This is part of a larger Council of American Overseas Research Centers program, organized by the Centre d'Études Maghrébines à Tunis (CEMAT) and financed by the Andrew Mellon Foundation that seeks to collaborate with local institutions for a greater awareness of art historical research in north Africa.
On Maghrebi Museums:
V. Rey. 2020. ed. Exhibiting Minority Narratives: Cultural Representation in Museums in the Middle East and North Africa. University of Edinburgh Press.
K. Pieprzak. 2014. “A Beautiful Grave: Innocent Objects, Museums and the Modern Self in Driss Chraïbi’s La Civilisation, ma Mère!... and the Ben M’Sik Community Museum.” Studies in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature 38.2.
K. Pieprzak. 2013. “Art Museums and Memories of Modernity” in A Companion to Modern African Art, Monica Blackmun and Gitti Salami ed. London: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing.
K. Pieprzak. 2012. "Participation as Patrimony: The Ben M’Sik Community Museum and the Importance of the Small Museum in Morocco" in Ben M'Sik Community Museum: Building Bridges, Samir el-Azhar ed., Casablanca: Université Hassan II.
K. Pieprzak. 2010. Imagined Museums: Art and Modernity in Postcolonial Morocco, (University of Minnesota Press.
A. Touzani. 2003 / 2017. La Politique culturelle au Maroc. Casablanca: La Croisée des Chemins 2003; EDDIF 2017.
On Art’s Engagement with Magrebhi Architecture:
K. Pieprzak. 2019. “Whitewash as Affective Platform: Art and Politics of Surface in the Work of Yto Barrada and Hassan Darsi” ART Margins 8.3 (Fall 2019): 29-53.
K. Pieprzak. 2016. "Zones of Perceptual Enclosure: The Aesthetics of Immobility in Casablanca's Literary Bidonvilles” Research in African Literatures 47.3 (Fall 2016).
A. Karakayali and V. Osten. 2010. ed. Colonial Modern: Aesthetics of the Past, Rebellions of the Future. London: Black Dog Publishing.__________________________________________________________________________________________________