AiR Sidi Ali

Artists call out 2014/15

Artist in Residency (AiR) Sidi Ali, Morocco. PAST RESIDENCY PROGRAM

1st – 8th  January 2015.

Artist’s Call out

Culture Vultures announces an artists’ call-out for the third edition of an 8-day artist in residence program around the Sidi Ali Ben Hamdouch pilgrimage festival (Moussem), pulling artists deep into a fusion of Islam and Moroccan folklore.


The itinerary summary  – Facilitated daytime and nighttime visits to the Moussem of Sidi Ali Ben Hamdouch are interwoven with a program of talks, presentations,  interviews and feedback dinners with locals involved in the Moussem and academics specialising in the field of Islamic studies and Moroccan culture.  The program also incorporates cultural activities such as a hammam visit and local trips to experience the rich heritage and fertile landscape of the  surrounding area.

The artists – The program is open to visual artists, dancers, performers, writers, designers, musicians, and multi-media artists interested in the rich culture, ceremonial festival and spiritual pilgrimage who are wanting to gain insight, draw inspiration and obtain material to feed their work and artistic practice. The definition of artist is broad.

NOTE –Photography is NOT permitted at Sidi Ali; photographers or film makers wishing to apply should take this into consideration.

Moussem Sidi Ali Ben Hamdouch – Every year on the anniversary of the prophet Mohammed’s  birth, (‘Eid al-Mawlid) many Moroccans take part in pilgrimages to sacred places, saintly tombs, shrines and grottos, and places frequented by ‘junuun,’ those mystical beings from the Qur’an who hold a special place in Moroccan folklore and popular culture.

Thousands of pilgrims descend upon Sidi Ali to commemorate Sidi Ali Ben Hamdouch and to delve into the world of the supernatural, the trance, the aura of the junuun, to experience the ritual bath at the spring of Aïsha Ben Hamdoucha and incantations that bring spirits and humans together in remembrance of God.

During the week of the pilgrimage, tents and stalls line the streets of the small town. The smells of tea and grilled meat mix with those of live sheep awaiting slaughter and the sweet incense used in ritual offerings. Music fills the foggy mountain air as impromptu street performances take place in every corner.

Musicians playing anything from the Ahidous native to the Atlas Mountains to Sufi music in the Hamadsha or Gnawa traditions descend upon Sidi Ali, set up camp in a ground floor garage or room in an apartment for the week to perform ceremonial ‘Lillas’

 Spectators are slowly brought into the ritual – dancing, swaying and being offered breaths of incense until some fall into a trance. Participation with the mystic during the pilgrimage of Sidi Ali ben Hamdouch is very much like all mystic experiences: it requires initiation, belief and surrender.  The sweet smell of incense and the rhythmic clapping of metal castanets and chanting of the Gnawi form an experience that flows between the spiritual and the sensory – between mere curiosity and more esoteric meanderings. Hardly advertised, the pilgrimage of Sidi Ali Ben Hamdouch is known by most Moroccans. This is an opportunity to be transported deep into Moroccan tradition.

This text is taken from an article written on the 2012 Mousseem by Joe Lukawski For more  go to –


For inspiration and an idea of what went on at last years Sidi Ali AiR, click on the link below to view last year’s ebook on AiR Sidi Ali.


René Kladzyk – Crownworc

Artist in Residence 2013

Culture Vultures is a Moroccan cultural company that was set up in 2009 to support and facilitate arts and cross-cultural activities. Culture Vultures has worked with local, national and international artists from a broad portfolio of media  coordinating the realisation and presentation of their work in the Fez region.


Jess Stephens, the facilitator is  a practising artist and cultural coordinator originally from the UK. Jess has lived and worked in Morocco for since 2007. Her interest is in a cross-cultural and grassroots passion Morocco is what feeds and benefits her facilitation and the design of this AiR Sidi Ali project.


The accommodation – Dar Zerhoune guesthouse is a traditional Moroccan house restored by a woman from New Zealand with a love of Morocco. Dar Zerhoune has western toilets, comfortable beds and wifi, yet keeps a time-honored character reminiscent of the ancient Moroccan town of Moulay Idriss.


 Sidi Ali Ben Hamdouch – Is a small town situated some 10 kilometres from *Moulay Idriss, and 15km from Meknes, the nearest city. The capital city of the region, the ancient imperial city of Fez is located 70 kilometres from Sidi Ali. The Fez region is set in the North central area of Morocco, North Africa.


Image by Hollis Bennett

Artist in Residence 2013

Moulay Idriss, the project’s home base, is a holy and important historical town. Moulay Idriss offers calm and quiet residence, in comparison to the high energy of Sidi Ali during the week of the Moussem.

Morocco has a deeply traditional culture with a population of 99 percent Muslim, made up of both Berber and Arab ethnicities. Before the establishment of Israel, Morocco also hosted a large Jewish population and has also been influenced by past colonising cultures such as Spanish and French.


Cost –  950 euros

 What is included in the price –

  • The rich and informative Artist in Residence program described above.
  • An exhibition, performance or publication of the AiR facilitated by Culture Vultures.
  • Transport to and from Fez and inaugural dinner.
  • Transport from Fez to Moulay Idriss
  • Accommodation for 7 nights in Dar Zerhoune in Moulay Idriss
  • Breakfast and one delicious and typically Moroccan main meal per day
  • Much inspiration, exploration and amazement.


Participants are required to arrange their own accommodation in Fez.



How to apply – Complete attached Application Form( Sidi Ali 2015 Application )and e-mail it to

This includes examples of your work ( images –  jpeg, text -word.doc, video – mp4) and a short text ( 400 words ) on how you anticipate AiR Sidi Ali will nourish and inspire your work.

Submission deadline –  October 7th, 2014.  Participants will be announced on the 31st of October 2014

Note – Full residency places are limited to 6 people. Places are secured after confirmation from the organisation and a deposit is paid.

For more on this project, reports by the artists and work made from the 2013 and 2014 residency see

 CMJN de base

10 responses to “AiR Sidi Ali

  1. i have be send trying to send application to this email address but is always come back that is not correct can give us another email address to use ( ) thanks

  2. Is there any opportunity for artists to perform or actively present their own art there? Another thing: is there a possibility to get an invitation letter to apply for a grant? Is it possible to apply also later than 10th? I think in my country it takes at least 2-3 weeks until late December to decide about the grants.

    • Dear Artist, The presentation will take place in Fez under the collaboration of the French Institute six months later, not at the Sidi ALi or during the festival. The deadline for the 10th of December is fixed, applications will not be accepted after that date. Yes we can provide a letter of support. Where are you applying from.
      Thank you and kind regards
      Culture Vultures

  3. Pingback: Artists Call Out – AiR Sidi Ali (II) | Culture Vultures Fez·

  4. Pingback: Residency in Northern Morocco. Deadline: Sept. 10. 2013. | The Curator Ship·

  5. Pingback: Moussem Sidi Ali Ben Hamdouch - Sacred, Mystical, Muslim, Madness | Vagobond·

  6. Pingback: lunettes oakley·

Leave a Reply