In the framework of the Résidences croisées artist Hanane El Farissi will be working closely with researcher and archeologist Thomas Reitmaier to develop a body of work responding to his scientific project on tanneries in Marrakesh, titled Dbagh.
Marrakesh, located on the Haouz Plain north of the High Atlas, was founded by the Almoravids in the 11th century and is one of Morocco's four imperial cities. With the flourishing architectural and economic development of the city in the beginning of the 12th century, a tannery district was created to the east of the Medina. This district still exists today and the manual processing of animal hides has been an important part of Marrakesh’s cultural heritage for over a millennium.
Dbagh tackles this multifaceted topic from an anthropological-archaeological perspective. Firstly, Dbagh aims to precisely document the traditional tanners' quarter, in order to capture not only the craft skills handed down over many generations, but also the material culture of the area (buildings, infrastructure etc.). Secondly, through archaeological excavation north of the Medina, the project aims to trace and examine a hitherto lesser-known tannery area, with the intent preserving its structures and monuments as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
During the first phase of the project Hanane El Farissi will spend one month in Marrakesh, where she will explore material and social dimensions of this history and how it permeates the present-day Medina. For this project El Farissi will also collaborate with the Moroccan photographer Abdellah Azizi.
Résidences croisées is an exchange project between Belgium and Morocco, organized by Moussem Nomadic Arts Center and supported by the CCME (Conseil de la Communauté marocaine à l'Étranger).
Thomas Reitmaier's research project Dbagh in Marrakesh is supported by SLSA, Swiss-Liechtenstein Foundation for Archaeological Research Abroad.
Image: Dbagh drawings 1 & 2. Courtesy of Hanane El Farissi