Casablanca’s SummerLab forms a platform for ideas

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A group of young people organized ‘SummerLab‘ in Casablanca, the economic capital of Morocco, for the third time now. ‘SummerLab’ is an initiative organized by OpenTaqafa (Open Culture), and the name already speaks for itself: culture from and for everybody.

In Morocco the 18-25 years age group is relatively large, and it was during and after the Arab Spring demonstrations in 2011 that these young Moroccans felt the need to step up and educate each other. To understand this idea it is important to know that Morocco has a rather low quality educational system and that freedom of expression has been under pressure for decades. In this context a movement like UECSE (Student Union for Change of the Educational System) was founded that organized projects like ‘Felsafa f zenqa’ (‘Philosophy in the streets’) which involved discussion and debates. These were held in public parks and everyone could express their opinion. Heated discussions took place and different ideas and dreams for the country were shared. Another project is ‘Nod tqra!’ (‘Get up and read!’). Young Moroccans collectively read in a public place, and shared the books they read. Again sharing and exchange was an important concept within this initiative. These two projects offered space and freedom for young Moroccans to express themselves.

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Ever more projects like this have sprung up, where young people demand and make room for self-expression. ‘SummerLab’ is another example of sharing thoughts and ideas. It is a place where people can develop their own views of the world and, more specifically, new views on art.

‘SummerLab 2014’ was a five-day event held from 8 to 12 October in an old slaughterhouse in the Hay Mohameddi district. Artists from all disciplines were welcome to share their art with fellow artists and an audience that was interested in art, and could become artists themselves in future. Any accidental passer-by could have a look at the various workshops that were held and learn from them or add an idea. In this free atmosphere ‘SummerLab’ breaks barriers between artists and their audience and creates space for anyone with an innovative, creative and experimental idea. Everyone was invited to join. From making an analog camera from a juice box to T-shirt design, ideas about recycling, T-shirt design, music, graffiti, food, dance, and theater were all present. The rich content of ‘SummerLab’ also breaks down barriers between the different disciplines of art. Everything is possible, everything is allowed as long as it is shared and experienced. During these ‘SummerLab’ days there was also room for awareness and discussion about the importance of recycling and sustainable living.

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Mouna Najah, photographer and part of the organizing team, describes ‘SummerLab’ as a cultural development for everyone and by everyone where sharing art and exchanging experiences and ideas is the main goal of the event. She sees a rising curve: “I think next year ‘SummerLab’ will be bigger. This year’s success and enthusiasm of the artists really motivated the organization to attract more innovative young people from all over Morocco and to continue breaking barriers and make art accessible for all”.

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