Billboards bringing contemporary art to the streets of Casablanca

Burqanista by Hind Bensari
Burqanista by Hind Bensari

Billboard Festival Casablanca occupied 63 full-size billboards in the very heart of Casablanca, with photographic images by 63 Moroccan and Nordic contemporary female artists. A prime platform in the city seen by literally thousands and thousands of people passing by in city trams and on foot every day.

The festival brings non-commercial imagery to the cityscape of billboards for the first time in the history of Casablanca to raise awareness and encourage public debates on gender issues, as well as bringing contemporary art to a wider audience of both genders and all ages. 63 Moroccan and Nordic contemporary women artists (including works by selected students from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen and the École Superieure des Beaux Arts in Casablanca) were given the opportunity to express themselves on their own terms, and to make the city more open and creative for everyone.

Billboards have a monumental and powerful visibility in the public space. Blown up to 4 by 3 metres (13′ by 10′), the artists’ photographic works bring new life and new images to the streets of Casablanca. As well as showcasing the talent and visions of women artists, Billboard Festival Casablanca 2015 provides a prominent, public site for stories and images that differ greatly from the usual advertising that dominates the streets of many cities worldwide.

The organisation behind the festival hopes that by exhibiting the art of women artists from Morocco and Scandinavia on the streets of Casablanca, the festival will mark “the beginning of a beautiful friendship” – to quote the closing line of the film Casablanca.

BILLBOARD FESTIVAL CASABLANCA is the idea and concept of the Danish visual artist Hanne Lise Thomsen. In 2012 Thomsen curated the billboard project WE ARE FROM HERE in Ramallah, and the citywide billboard project WOMEN2003 (women2003.dk) in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Malmö, Sweden, in 2003. The  idea is to build bridges between cultures and to challenge ideas about urban space, gender and identity through artistic interventions and new kinds of images by and of women.

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