L’appartement 22 is an independent art space in Rabat founded in 2002 by Abdellah Karroum following a series of projects, gatherings, and journeys. The majority of L’appartement22’s projects are conceived specifically for the space, primarily in the context of artists’ residencies. Located in the heart of Rabat, on Avenue Mohamed V across from Parliament, this space for debate interrogates recent art historical discourses and the social, political, and cultural contexts of their emergence. L’appartement22 has played a fundamental role in the development of independent spaces in Morocco for the past decade, as freedom of expression has become a rallying cry in a country where politics, religion, and economy are exclusive items of traditional and postcolonial power.
L’appartement22 expanded its formats in 2007 with the first art radio in Morocco, R22, and a workshop in Fez, Lot 219. The R22 radio programs have been recorded live in exhibition spaces in Brussels, Gwangju, Marrakech, Medellin, Palermo, Cotonou, and the Rif Mountains. In 2011, the exhibition space in Rabat invited international members of the Curatorial Delegation to curate its programs, using the physical space for gatherings in dialogue with art projects are produced around the world. In 2013, The Rif Residency was created to offer a space for artists, writers, and curators to develop projects in collaboration with the Rif community.
The original exhibition space is now a space for documentation and archives. It provides artist dossiers and information on professional opportunities for researchers, artists, and students. Documentation and contacts are available on site, amongst them: Adel Abdessemed, Ninar Esber, Fadma Kaddouri, Georgia Kotretsos, Younès Rahmoun, Otobong Nkanga, Shezad Dawood, and many more.
The three artists proposed are artists that did a residency or project at L’appartement 22.
Georgia Kotretsos is the artist-in-residence at L’appartement22, Rabat, from 15 December 2013 to 15 January 2014. It is Kotretsos’ first time in Morocco but she has followed the program of the space and the path of its founder, Abdellah Karroum, since 2007. At the end of her residency, L’appartement 22 will host an exhibition of work produced during her stay in Morocco (15 January – 28 February 2014). In Rabat, Kotretsos will conduct research on the city’s independent art spaces and museums, while looking for emblematic images and artworks, in relation to their surroundings, and their audience. For the artist, this approach stimulates her art practice and leads to new works and inquiries.
She proposed the photography-based project, KARFI (Greek : Kαρφί) produced in Rabat. In Greek, KARFI literally means nail, but the word is also layered with metaphorical and playful connotations that draw attention to elements of our surroundings that otherwise would have escaped us. When personified, it refers to someone who tells on others or who slips and accidentally reveals him/herself.
Kotretsos recently founded the collective Women With Talents (WWT) along with Athens-based visual artist, Natasha Papadopoulou. During Kotretsos’ residency at L’appartement 22, Touda Bouanani Rabat-based artist will contribute to the realization of WWT’s project in Rabat. During the final week of the residency, Kotretsos and Papadopoulou will join Bouanani for the collective’s first initiative, a day-long performance entitled Spring Cleaning. For the artists, the performance is an editorial gesture that wishes to erase, to wipe off, to cleanse instead of adding to the public sphere. It is an effort to re-introduce space and surface, a hope to excavate the recent past by only removing its outermost layer : the veil of dirt, the traces civilians leave behind. Dirt is a poignant reminder of the passing of time and the Spring Cleaning performance will attempt to unveil the dermis of the most politically charged site in the heart of Rabat, right on Mohamed V Avenue the 11th January 2014.
Julia Rometti & Victor Costales
In the new works commissioned by L´appartement 22, Julia Rometti & Víctor Costales pursue their ongoing research on Anarquismo Mágico, a little known transnational political movement, and one of its leading figures, Azul Jacinto Marino. Rometti & Costales interrogate the historical movement’s relevance within North Africa’s current botanical, mineral, and political context. These enquiries were sparked by subaquatic communications intercepted by the artists in the coast of Ecuador. The transcription of these messages into the Berber Tifinagh alphabet prompted a series of multi-divinatory events which took place in the Rif mountains in northern Morrocco in September, as part of the Expédition du bout du monde #11, hosted by the Rif residencies program of L´appartement 22. In the meantime, curator Natalia Valencia went after the traces of the first seeds of spiritual inclination experienced by German artist and art historian Mathias Goeritz, during his stay in Tangier and Tetouan in the early 1940s. In the unearthed correspondence between Goeritz’s wife Marianne Gast (a.k.a Bambi) and Azul Jacinto Marino, the researchers found evidence of the influence exerted by Moroccan folk aesthetics in what would later become Goeritz’s theory of “Emotional Architecture.” This was crystallized in the construction of Museo Experimental El Eco in Mexico City in 1953. Following Goeritz and Marino’s early reflections on spiritual anarchism, Rometti & Costales’ perspectivist endeavours reach out for the sensibility contained in Moroccan amber, sand, azurite, and other entities. In times of political unrest, Azul equivocation delves on the transformative qualities of botanical, mineral, and architectural insurrection.
Fadma Kaddouri was born in the Rif Mountains, Morocco, and she lives and works in Grenoble, France. She participated in numerous international exhibition such as Jf_Jh Libertés (2012, L’appartement 22, Rabat), Le dépays, Marrakech Biennale (2012, Marrakech), Transmediale Berlin Festival (2011, Berlin), and Sentences on the bank and other activities, Darat Al Funun (2010-2011, Amman). In September 2013, L’appartement22 exhibited the first monographic exhibition of her work.
In L’appartement 22’s exhibition space on Avenue Mohamed V, Kaddouri exhibited her proposal, Le Signe Route. For many years, Kaddouri has been conducting complex research on the legacy of Mohamed Choukri, a Riffian writer, by using methods which might be linked to autobiographical investigation and the fiction of micro-history. The literary legacy of Choukri, whose work questions the role of the writer in society, is a writing that never shies away from life’s vacuity and torments. Choukri’s writing takes a poetical and epic dimension, drawing together social, political, and historical perspectives. The artist weaves together what results from experiences described by Choukri in this proposal dedicated to, and interested in, the fate of an individual or a group in order to focus on the world around her.
Le Signe Route project ensued from Kaddouri’s trips to the Rif as part of Rif Residency, created by Abdellah Karroum and coordinated and supported by L’appartement22. It began in 2011 with sites for research and intervention by artists and members of the Curatorial Delegation, who propose and lead projects in different contexts. The frequency of the residencies is determined according to artist projects and to different meteorological and geopolitical conditions. The first series, organized in 2011, resulted in productions and encounters presented at the Venice Biennale and at L’appartement 22 as part of Working for Change, including new works by Gabriella Ciancimino and Younès Rahmoun. In 2012, artists Badr El Hammami, Mustapha Akrim, and Fadma Kaddouri participated in a residency structured at the crossroads of a seminar for artistic research and an exploratory expedition that focused on sites of history (Expedition #10 as part of the project, Le Bout Du Monde). In 2013, Fadma Kaddouri returned to the Rif to continue her project following the route of Mohamed Choukri, an author emblematic of twentieth century Morocco. The artist collaborated with the cooperative Noua’Rif on a first project and then worked with the group to create a rose for the author. L’appartement 22 also organizes residencies-encounters in the Rif in order to facilitate education and knowledge exchange, notably in the disciplines of photography, painting, and literature.
Abdellah Karroum is a research and curator based between Cotonou, Rabat, Paris, and, since 2013, the director of Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, Qatar. He founded L’appartement 22 in Rabat in 2002 and its radio project, RADIOappartement 22 (R22), in 2007. He is the author of the book, L’appartement 22 (2002-2008), published by Editions Hors’champs. Although considered as the most dynamic specialist in the Arab World, he does not claim to belong to a specific region or a single country. Instead, he articulates a concept of “relative homelands,” advocating permanent back-and-forth movements between diverse spaces and a nomadic approach to the circulation of artworks and their relationship to the contexts in which they appear, such as exhibitions and publications. This approach is also applied in spaces created by certain artists and thinkers that take displacement and encounter as a methodology, inscribing art within the fundamental activities of society.
After creating Edititions Hors’champs in Bordeaux in 1999, Karroum began his artistic expeditions, Le Bout Du Monde (The Edge of the World), initiated in the Rif since 2000. These expeditions are a way to question the ways in which international exhibitions are founded on a global model and claim the relativity of encounters between artworks and a predefined public.
The cultural radio station, R22, experiments with the diversity of the space of exchange by using the language of art and extending the physical space into the airwaves in order to amplify the actions L’appartement 22 has undertaken since 2002 in Rabat. In 2008, R22 participated in the 7th Gwangju Biennale (South Korea), creating the station, R22: Gwangju. Karroum was also invited to curate an exhibition within the Biennale as part of the Position Papers. His exhibition, Expedition 7 (Relative Homelands), presented the work of Adel Abdessemed, Francis Alys, Seamus Farrell, Vincent+Feria, and Sislej Xhafa.
Karroum has also served as associate curator for the Dakar Biennale (2006) and the artistic director of the 2009 Marrakech Biennale, where he curated A proposal for articulating works and places. He was associate curator for 2012 La Triennale at the Palais de Tokyo (Paris). In 2012, he was artistic director of the Benin Biennale, Inventing the World: The Artist as Citizen. He directed the seminar, “Art, Technology and Ecology” (ESAV-Marrakech), and regularly publishes on contemporary art. From 2012-2013, he was the artistic director of the International Prize for Contemporary Art at the Prince Pierre de Monaco Foundation.