Think Casablanca and you’re reminded of a romantic drama, Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, and perhaps what is inarguably the ‘greatest movie of all time’.
Salma Lahlou, curator, Dubai Design Week’s Iconic City: Loading. Casa, thinks differently. A mention of ‘Casablanca’ for her is a stroll down nostalgia lane; the essence, charm, and spirit of the largest city in Morocco. Lahlou along with artists, Zineb Andress Arraki, Aicha El Beloui, Hicham Lasri, Mostafa Maftah, Anna Raimondo, mythologist Mohamed Tangi, and scientific advisor Omar Mrani recreated the vibe of Morocco in Dubai at the pop-up exhibition.
“I wanted to convey an image as faithful as possible to what Casablanca actually is with its pros and cons. One of the cons of the city, for example, is its amnesic memory. It’s a shame not to know enough about a city filled with so much history. With this collective installation, I’m attempting to make people aware of the city’s progress and achievements so far,” said Lahlou.
It’s hard to walk past the exhibition and miss it – an interesting and impactful mélange of sounds and expressions lure attendees to step into a world of creativity.
Arraki brought to the exhibition Beauty Will Be Convulsive or Will Not Be, a never-seen-before project that links Dubai and Casablanca’s urban and architectural approaches. “Hundred years ago Casablanca was just like Dubai. It was all about the superlatives,” she said.
Raimondo, an artist of Italian orgin but with her heart in Casablanca, came to Dubai carrying Casa’s ambience and packaged it in powerful sound recordings. “The idea was to create a sound immersive experience. For the project, I interviewed people off the streets, recorded the sounds of the mosque, and the souks; sounds that are reminiscent of the city.”
Her gender-specific approach towards the project led her to ask Casablancans if they thought the city was a man or a woman, and what it meant to them. Their responses were compiled in aural and textual form to read as urban poetry in her project Casablanca Tells.
With his 30-minute long film CasaOneDay, Lasri tells the story of a curious child who walks the streets of the city with a mirror in one hand to capture the soul of the city.
“To me, Iconic City: Loading.Casa is the highlight of the event. That is primarily because we’ve added as much media as possible – archival material, contemporary photography, and sound recordings, among other media,” Lahlou said about the exhibition.
The artists have returned to their abode, their home, ‘Casa’, as they fondly call it, but they sure will continue to highlight the city’s progress ‘as time goes by’.