The work developed by Andrea Nacciarriti for the Atla(s)now project during his residency at the Dar Toubkal and Kasbah du Toubkal center in the Imlil village (Marrakech, Morocco) was based on the concept of the fossilization of the Berber’s identity. For that reason, he produced artworks that create ideally the conditions for the resistance of this mountain people, whose culture is largely based on oral tradition, which is Islamized and threatened with extinction.
The artist focused his activities on their independence as Berbers, involving the community itself to play an active role in this process. For this reason he aimed to the original etymology of the word "Berber" Imazighen, which means free men. [download pdf][ read more ]
The idea to introduce the community to the concept of "fossilization" started from a urban activity during which Nacciarriti helped the community remove some writings and graffiti on the walls and stones in the centre of the village, frequently visited by tourists.
This action involved an increasing number of people at any age that spontaneously rushed to help him. The aim was to show our closeness and solidarity to those people about the problem of graffiti, as a result of the intense tourism that often includes people disfiguring stones and walls in their passage to take the trekking route to the summit of Mount Toubkal.
Other projects followed up which are part of the body of work that he considers his art production for Atla(s)now.
As a first work, Andrea Nacciaritti asked the girls of the Education for all association in the village of Asni, to write stories and letters related to their Berber identity. With this project he wanted to emphasize the personal responsibility of the preservation of the memory, in a place that houses in the girls coming from the rural villages in the High Atlas Mountains, and where they are offered the opportunity to complete their education beyond primary school.
The letters from this “cocoon” have become gifts that the artist has donated to some male people of the Imlil village, assigned with the task to preserve them. Whatever it was the way they would preserve the letters, Nacciarriti asked those people to keep him informed about that, sending him documentation as proof of the crystallization of their identity.
Some visible traces of these preserved letters are now on view in shops, private houses, restaurants, while others which have been brought somewhere in the mountain landscape by the mountain guides, are left at the mercy of time or of some lucky passenger.
Nacciarriti's production has allowed Atla(s)now activities to widespread and embed into the real life of this region, involving in its activities the enthusiasm of the people and of the associations which are daily working on the development of their surrounding Douar.
Finally, this process produced the base of Andrea Nacciarriti’s final performance for which a video work has been made as testimony of it. The performance was created including all the members of the Tiwizi association, also its president Hassan Edderjoune. The video will be on view during the Marrakech biennale in the spaces of the Tiwizi association that operates in the Berber village of Asni.
The artist along with adults, youth and children of the association, after a sort of cutting-up from existing Berber songs, built a national anthem which has ideally become the national Berber one, which in turn led to the idea of a workshop with the schoolchildren of Imlil. During the workshop the artist grouped together the kids, getting them to reproduce the Berber’s alphabet.
The collaboration with the Tiwizi association was particularly intense as their common aim was the creation of something deeply related to the Berber identity of this region, since the association is focused on improving the improve the livelihoods of the local Berber population through a more joint approach, hence the meaning of the Berber word Tiwizi: it’s all about solidarity, voluntary work and joint efforts.
The anthem was sung and played with the same ceremonial reserved to a national team playing at the World Cup. The football match was played in the football field of the Tiwizi association on which the symbol of the Amazigh culture was drawn using the chalk. During the 60-minute match, entertained by cheers and chants, the 14 players have partially erased the white symbol, blurring it with the gold dust that rose in the sky.
(Text by Alessandro Facente)