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Marrakech Biennale 2012

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Morocco has always held a certain artistic allure: Matisse painted open-air portraits in Tangier; William Burroughs’s early novel Interzone was inspired by his time in Morocco; and Talitha Getty became the face of Marrakech during her reign as a ’60s style icon.

The fourth edition of the Marrakech Biennale continues this tradition. This year’s biennale, titled “Surrender,” will be the first major trilingual (English, Arabic and French) festival to highlight contemporary art, literature and film in North Africa and includes more than 60 participants from around the world. In addition to the myriad performances, screenings and talks taking place during the week, the festival celebrates the opening of its main visual-arts exhibition, “Higher Atlas” (on display through June 3). The show will feature site-specific commissions conceived and created on location by local craftspeople and manufacturers. Architect Carson Chan, cocurator of the exhibit, says the exhibition seeks to challenge the traditional methods of biennale-making. “Do we have to show art?” he asks. “Why not commission a novel, a symphony, an album or a prayer?” The Marrakech Biennale runs February 29–March 4; marrakechbiennale.org.

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