The health of any good festival can often be judged by the depth of the fringe. A festival fringe is a sign of a healthy interaction between local fand visiting artists. Vanessa Bonnin, from View from Fez, explores the Fe festival Fringe and finds it in remarkably good form.
pOp uP al Zahra – with Jess Stephens
The Queen of the Festival Fringe scene must surely be Jessica Stephens, Sefrou based artist and cultural coordinator of Culture Vultures. Each year her contribution gets bigger and it’s all for a good cause, bringing art and culture to the streets for everyone to experience.
“There have been so many highlights!” Stephens said. “Flash mobbing in Seffarine Square with Gershom, the Timbre Flaws Choir singing on the doorstep of the pop up – there were 24 of them and with their kids too, flash mob with Amacita – a group of mixed nationality students from the American high school in Fes – was great , a few of the Moroccan students hadn’t ever been to the Medina and there they were singing in Seffarine Square.
“The mix of audiences for it is what excites me and the deeper into the Medina we go, the further away from the main festival sites, the more it’s appreciated – we’re giving something to the people of the Medina.”
This is the essence of what Stephens does – break down the barriers that make art and culture elitist and only open to a select section of society, by making it accessible in a non-threatening environment.
“The pop up is so much more than a shop or a gallery, it’s about sharing – it’s become aplatform, a springboard for artist’s projects, performances, and artists psroject. It’s not about business it’s about cracking open arts and culture for all people across the spectrum. There’s no other space where you get visitors as diverse as a high-class Parisian, a gnawa mallum and a tanner! My mission is arts for all!”
A more traditional art exhibition, also coordinated by Culture Vultures was on display at Dar Tazi during the festival.
Mohammed Charkaoui is a Fassi artist whose father is an Imam, he has been practicing for many years and now teaches calligraphy. Yassine Khalid is a young contemporary artist from Sefrou with a smart mind and big ambitions. He trained in Tetouan and, for now, lives and works in Sefrou.
“I believe Yassine will go far,” Stephens said.”Watch this space.”
Its all over for this year but ideas are germinating and have sprung from this rich and rewarding venture for the coming Fes Festival Fringe. Culture Vultures would like to thank all those involved ed and who supported.
Photos and text by Vanessa Bonnin.