Hicham Bouzid in 5 questions
Hello Hicham, can you introduce yourself in a few sentences?
My name is Hicham Bouzid, I am 29 years old, I was born in Tangier. I work as an art director and curator, my curatorial practice lives around different projects: I organize exhibitions, seminars, podcasts, artist residencies, open studios and more recently, I came back to something that really fascinates me which is publishing, by creating a magazine called Makan. The different mediums that I practice tend towards the same goal, around contemporary issues that cross Moroccan society today. I try to create a narrative that emanates from our specific context.
I didn't study in the art world but I learned on the job, I started working as a bookseller at the Insolites bookstore in Tangier before moving to Marrakech in 2013 where I had the immense pleasure of being part of the launch of 18, Derb el Ferrane, a multidisciplinary cultural riad in the heart of Marrakech's medina. This space for cultural and artistic experimentation has been an extraordinary experience for me and has opened the way to many opportunities and encounters.
In 2016, I relocated to Tangier and created the ThinkTanger platform, a cultural project that explores the social and spatial issues of the city of Tangier.
Can you tell us more about ThinkTanger?
This year, ThinkTanger is celebrating its 5th anniversary as the project started as a one shot.
When we launched the project with Amina Mourid, the question was simple: what's going on in Tangier? Around us, there was a lot of change: exploded streets, new neighborhoods, new urban infrastructures. ThinkTanger is interested in the impact of urban changes on people's lives and thinks about the city of Tangier through a cultural prism. Highlighting the experience of the people of Tangier is very important for a city that has suffered from a false fantasy image: that of the Beat Generation, trashy, sexy and bohemian, at the crossroads of continents... Yet this image does not fit today's reality.
Our cultural program takes shape around a cycle of reflection, a theme. We structure it around meetings with artists, researchers, urban planners, activists, who are interested in living together in a city. We also have a program of artist residencies, open studio and exhibition and publication through the magazine Makan, trying to involve an ever-growing community. Our studio is located in the city center but we create a link with the periphery through a program of urban laboratory that we develop with communities from these neighborhoods, always to reflect the urban and social change of the city of Tangier through people's experiences.
In the context of Atelier Kissaria, you question the notion of craftsmanship, in what terms?
Atelier Kissaria is a space dedicated to the production of printed objects and images, launched one year after Think Tanger. In Morocco, kissaria is the ancestor of the mall, the place where you can find everything. We wanted to create the kissaria of practices, a place where you can print your poster with silkscreen printing, produce a fabric, etc.
I had the chance to meet and collaborate with the artist Yto Barrada, also from Tangier, whose work is an inspiration for us, who offered us to share his Tangier workshop with her. When I launched the Kissaria workshop, it was less to produce than to question production, the role of crafts as an artistic practice in itself and to re-inscribe craft practices in a process of artistic production, because in Morocco and other African countries, the history of art is extremely linked to crafts. Personally, I personally consider a carpet produced by a weaver and in which patterns and symbols reflect something beyond decoration. There is also an obvious link between craftsmanship and the city, today craftsmen find themselves, because of the massive industrialization of a city like Tangier, out of the way.
Today the focus is on printing and independent publishing, through silkscreen printing, which I also practice personally and which, itself, is a craft practice, ancestral, at the center of artistic production. We are developing the Kissaria workshop which will become the Tangier Print Club.
Can you tell us about your relationship with the city of Tangier?
Tangier still has the atmosphere of a small town or even a village even though it is a metropolis of 2 million inhabitants (which lacks the infrastructures of a metropolis...) People have a routine, I run into the same people at the café in Paris every day.
I love this city very much, I'm very invested in it because it gives me a unique opportunity to develop extraordinary things. Tangier inspires me, I observe what happens every day, I observe people. In the city center, where I live, extremely different backgrounds and extremely different socio-economic categories cross paths, which is not the case in other cities. I am very keen on this rather absurd human mix.
To what extent do you define yourself as Mediterranean ? I define myself as Mediterranean first of all by the food: eating a tomato and feeling the sun inside. In Tangier, despite the super and hypermarkets that have sprung up everywhere, there are still places like the jbala market. Three times a week, the jebliat, these women who live in the mountains go down to the city to sell their products, vegetables, fruits, seeds, farm eggs, excellent olive oil etc. For me, the Mediterranean is these small everyday pleasures that cost little and are very important. I am also thinking of the mix of cultures found in Tangier and the Mediterranean. I also care about a southern Mediterranean identity, where borders still exist, when I see Tarifa every day but I don't have access to it without a visa.