Open to the public until July 17, 2022 at the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL) in Marrakech, the exhibition « Art, a Serious Game » curated by Meryem Sebti, editor-in-chief of Diptyk magazine is mainly from the permanent collection of the Alliances Foundation and presents more than 80 works of contemporary artists such as Soufiane Ababri, Mariam Abouzid Souali, Mohamed Arejdal, Nadia Ayari, Mohammed Baala, Yassine Balbzioui, James Bartolacci, Farid Belkahia, Fouad Bellamine, Amina Benbouchta, Othmane Bengebara, Hicham Benohoud, Mahi Binebine, Zoulikha Bouabdellah, Meriem Bouderbala, Max Moulay Mansour Boufathal, Fréderic Bruly Bouabré, Dora Dalila Cheffi, Chéri Chérin, Calixte Dakpogan, Imane Djamil, Peter Dreher, Mohamed El Baz, Safaa Erruas, Mounir Fatmi, Simohammed Fettaka, Fatna Gbouri, Malek Gnaoui, Hassan Hajjaj, Mohamed Hamidi, Fatima Hassan Al Farrouj, Saâd Hassani, Romuald Hazoumè, Chourouk Hriech, Johnny Izatt Lowry, Anuar Khalifi, Majida Khattari, Abdoulaye Konaté, Faouzi Laatiris, Joy Labinjo, George Lilanga, Gonçalo Mabunda, Abu Bakarr Mansaray, Walid Marfouk, Najia Mehadji, Paola Monzillo, Shula Mosengo, Mohamed Nabili, Cassi Namoda, Gresham Tapiwa Nyaude, Abdelkrim Ouazzani, GaHee Park, Adballah Sadouk, Ghizlane Sahli, Abbes Saladi, Chéri Samba, Ana Segovia, Ilias Selfati, Loutfi Souidi, Tesfaye Urgessa, Abderrahim Yamou, Mike Yates, Michaela Yearwood-Dan and Billie Zangewa.

This exhibition explores the theme of play through various mediums and famous works from the collection. Is the artist then that timeless young man, remembering the entry into the world through toys?   

Art-a-Serious-Game-MACAAL-2021-C.-Ayoub-El-Bardii-1-1024x683 The Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL) presents « Art, a Serious Game »
Art, a Serious Game, MACAAL, 2021 – C. Ayoub El Bardii

Absolutely, through the formation of a singular space of representation – within the restrictions of a standardized adult world – but also through the trial and error of the discretionary person of the principles and codes that creative people are free, constantly, to violate.

We might begin to characterize art itself by this phase of the creative mind, this space of fiction in which we first experience the world. Of course, since the psychoanalytic hypothesis approach, mental science has emphasized the impact of play on development.

Under the effect of the artists brought to light, the toys become obsessive objects of representation. It may be surprisingly pictorial, but it is not limited to these structures. Playing with images, implications, material, procedure and innovation; the initiation of this varied field of investigation reveals the extent of play intrinsic to creative practice. The exhibition’s scenographic journey leads the guest through seven themes, seven classes of creative play.

Art-a-Serious-Game-MACAAL-2021-C.-Ayoub-El-Bardii-5-1024x683 The Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL) presents « Art, a Serious Game »
Art, a Serious Game, MACAAL, 2021 – C. Ayoub El Bardii

Starting with the works of the team Fouad Bellamine / Mohamed El Baz, as well as those of Mariam Abouzid Souali, inspire the adolescence of art, as representations of early memories that bring together both candid happiness and nostalgia for the past.

Through a realistic game that ruins the logic of the point of view, Chourouk Hriech reappropriates the world to develop a more fanciful, a seductive non-existent where the accumulation of representations plunges us into a kind of joyful disorder.

Information about the world is certainly not an exhaustive portrait, but rather a dream formed by the Ivorian artist Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, as indicated by his desire and his creative spirit.

The reuse and transformation of objects is another type of play, creative spirit, redesign and creation. Whether he takes advantage of previous structures or concocts them without preparation, the artist continues to draw from an unlimited collection of images, objects or materials that he modifies as he sees fit.

Art-a-Serious-Game-MACAAL-2021-C.-Ayoub-El-Bardii-11-1024x683 The Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL) presents « Art, a Serious Game »
Art, a Serious Game, MACAAL, 2021 – C. Ayoub El Bardii

Thus, Malek Gnaoui remakes nature, Calixte Dakpogan reassembles scraps and salvaged materials to give life to components obtained in large part, like Baudelaire’s chemist in Les Fleurs du mal.

Disruptions of various kinds manage the theme of identity and multiple affiliations. Pretense is a constant element of the art, a screen that can reveal the mental vision of oneself or hide it behind a veil.

Propelled by family photos, Joy Labinjo raises questions about actually having a place for ourselves and our thought of character, inviting us to re-examine this set-up developing in more liquid terms, considering at different times equally private and aggregated subjectivities.

Assuming that the personality is an unceasing mission of otherness, it is also an enigma. Difficulty, self-destruction, giddiness or happiness, the work in fact plays with the codes of seduction.

GaHee Park dominates in this game. His compositions are the mechanism of synchronous narratives that feature sincere scenes where the feeling is brief, or dubious activities in logical inconsistency with their pleasant environmental elements; the artist is having fun with this blur scene.

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Hicham-Benohoud-Sans-titre-série-La-salle-de-classe-1994-2002.-Coll.-Fondation-Alliances-MACAAL-1024x692 The Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL) presents « Art, a Serious Game »
Hicham Benohoud, Sans titre, série La salle de classe, 1994-2002.
Coll. Fondation Alliances – MACAAL

The game eventually becomes rebellious, turning into a round of profound difference or interruption. Shaking up unimaginable certainties, obliterating definitively installed representations, ousting emblematic power and any form of control. In his visual series « The Classroom », Hicham Benohoud stages his students in puzzling and regularly ridiculous postures, thus scrutinizing the social and political framework of Moroccan culture, with its imbalances and innate mysteries.

The issues raised are both interesting and thoughtful. Nevertheless, the play demonstrates the veracity of a safe and joyously carnivalesque world. Underneath its flood of disruption, but alas, remains a question: should the norms of the game assert themselves, could they be played to the point of idiocy?

Let’s discover this through the exhibition « Art, a Serious Game » which proposes to the visitors a more relaxed and energetic relationship to the world.

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