Quelques Évènements Sans Significations

Our guest this week, Mohamed Fariji presents Mostapha Derkaoui who is a Moroccan filmmaker. He was born 1944 in Oujda and studied at the film school in Lodz, Poland. Quelques Évènements Sans Significations (Some Events Without Importance), 1974 is his first film. Forbidden at its launch – this was the case until the 1990s – it is an avant garde work, engaged and free, that questions the role of cinema and the role of artists in a time of political oppression. We see how a group of idealist cinematographers search the streets of the working class quarters of Casablanca’s harbour in order to find a subject for their film. They end up in bars where they question the recent birth of Moroccan cinema and talk to a young dock worker who fights to survive despite the everyday injustices he has to experience.

A whole generation of artists and musicians participated in shooting this film. This mobilisation of the world of cinema, of literature, of music and of art, which created an independent cinematographic work of great importance, is unique in the cultural history of Morocco.

The film, invisible since its realisation (censored by some, deemed to experimental for others), will soon be shown in a restored version. The original negatives, thought lost, were found in a european cinema, that had bought them after the laboratory which conserved them, had gone bankrupt.

L’Atelier de l’Observatoire (The Workshop of the Observatory) develops a long-term research project around the film: its re-discovery, its restoration, its conditions of realisation, its reception, and the place it occupies in the cinematography of the film director and in the history of moroccan cinema. Numerous public discussions and meetings with the film director were regularly held with students, artists, cinephiles and researchers.

Mohamed Fariji was born and lives in Casablanca. He is a graduate of the Tetouan National Fine Arts Institute (Morocco) and the Lotja School of Art and Design, Barcelona (Spain). Fariji develops long-term artistic projects which question the role of the artist and the individual in shaping his/her city and environment. Working in a variety of media, he also questions the involvement of public officials and policy makers in this process. Fariji’s conceptual works go hand in hand with civil action initiatives and grassroots environmentalism, which evolve over the course of his workshops, performances, or during the creation of participative site-specific works in the public space. Following on from his earlier project, 'The Imaginary Aquarium', which took as its subject the former aquarium of Casablanca, Fariji continues to collect traces of public spaces in Casablanca that have disappeared, or been forgotten or excluded from official discourse. In 2011, Fariji founded the Atelier de l'Observatoire, which supports socially-engaged and research-based art practices, and is designed as a staging ground to foster and guide contemporary creation.