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Imagined Museums

Imagined Museums: Art and Modernity in Postcolonial Morocco

Katarzyna Pieprzak
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Imagined Museums
    Book Description:

    Imagined Museums examines the intertwined politics surrounding art and modernization in Morocco from 1912 to the present. In this first cultural history of modern Moroccan art and its museums, Katarzyna Pieprzak goes beyond the investigation of national institutions to treat the history and evolution of multiple museums as cultural architectures that both enshrine the past and look to the future.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7347-6
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Note on Translation and Transliteration
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction: Entering the Museum
    (pp. xi-xxx)

    As we walked the crowded streets of the Fez medina toward the Batha Museum, high school student Najib Chami turned to me and asked, “Why should I go to a museum when I live in one?” Apart from a general contempt for tourism as something for foreigners, Najib’s question revealed his awareness of his own limited possibilities. A teenager stifled by his family, trapped in his ancient city, he wished to leave and transcend his past. The Fez medina, full of medieval mosques andmadrasas,with intricate arts and crafts reproduced and sold in its stalls throughout the centuries, was...

  6. PART I Monumental Sites of Discourse:: National Museums, Corporate Collections, and Cabinets of Curiosity

    • One Degeneration and Decay in the National Museum: Useful and Useless Memory in Modern Morocco
      (pp. 3-36)

      Moroccan museums do not exist. Moroccan museums are failed institutions. These two statements are the most common responses that Moroccan artists, curators, and academics initially give when asked to talk about museums in Morocco. The museums that they refer to are the national museums, and their critique of the institution is ultimately a critique of state support for arts infrastructures. National museums do not respond to local needs; there is no developed arts education in primary and high schools, there are no art departments in Moroccan universities, there is no national inventory of sites of patrimony, and ministerial politics reward...

    • Two Marketplace Museums: Art and Citizenship in Corporate Morocco
      (pp. 37-66)

      Although the cultural elite has lamented the lack of meaningful national museums in Morocco since the postindependence period, local markets and corporate marketplaces have reinterpreted the museum for their own purposes and profit. Whether through small medina businesses that advertise themselves as museums or large corporations and financial institutions that create museums and galleries of modern art, the Moroccan marketplace has fully embraced the idea of the museum as a way to generate income, investment, and prestige. In contrast to national museums, which appear as outdated and unsuccessful symbolic models from modernization politics of the 1960s, for better or for...

    • Three A Private Cabinet of Curiosity: The Belghazi Museum and Its Politics of Nostalgia
      (pp. 67-88)

      Where do objects of outrageous memory go? What place is there in national museums and corporate collections for the curious and the historically bizarre? In 1979 art historian E. H. Gombrich bemoaned the scientific didacticism and lack of creativity of the modern museum:

      I have a gloomy vision of a future museum in which the contents of Aladdin’s cave will have been removed to the storeroom and all that will be left will be an authentic lamp from the period of the Arabian nights with a large diagram at its side explaining how oil lamps worked, where the wick was...

  7. PART II Tactical Architectures of Art:: Discursive, Ephemeral, and Nomadic Museums

    • Four Imaginary Museums and Their Real Phantoms: Exorcising Monumental Discourse
      (pp. 91-126)

      What would it mean to create a museum of art that houses discourse rather than objects? And positions on art and the modern rather than modern art itself? For many in the museum world, this would be the ultimate travesty, the betrayal of the object, and the end of art as Hegel predicted. In the Discursive Museum, a 2001 symposium held in Vienna, artists, museum curators, and scholars discussed the future of art in a context in which the material object is rapidly vanishing and being replaced by installations that are ephemeral or cannot “endure the test of time,” in...

    • Five Taking Art to the Streets: The Ephemeral Outdoor Museum as Contact Zone
      (pp. 127-158)

      Every summer, cultural festivals take place all over Morocco. From June through August 2006, more than fifteen festivals of art, music, and cinema were staged in beachside towns and large urban areas. With displays and performances that mix elements of folklore, technology, the “traditional,” and the “modern,” the streets of Moroccan towns and cities become an animated scene for the articulation of Moroccan contemporary culture. So animated, heterogeneous, and pluralistic has this festival scene become that the semiofficial newspaper for the Islamist PJD (Justice and Development) party has called these street festivals “vectors of decadence,” and, ironically, certain Moroccan artists...

  8. Conclusion: Rethinking the Museum in Morocco
    (pp. 159-178)

    InLe Maroc en mouvement: Créations contemporaines(2001), Brahim Alaoui and Nicole de Pontcharra of the Institut du Monde Arabe speak of Moroccan artists, both literary and visual, as “the face of modern Morocco, that of the freedom of thought.” They declare that “the time has come for artistic creation to be recognized as primordial in the projects of a modern society.”¹ This type of statement is not new. One might argue that the Moroccan state and various individuals, collectives, and corporationshaverecognized and promoted visual art as the face of their modernity since the country gained independence. The...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 179-196)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 197-212)
  11. Index
    (pp. 213-223)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 224-224)