What is Exposé Artisanal ?
Exposé Artisanal is an inspiring arts and development non-for-profit project to reveal the Fassi artisans, and explore the often overlooked skills that go into the famed traditional crafts of North Morocco. It will enable a wider public to meet and become acquainted with the traditional crafts people and take pleasure in the personalities, stories, skills and their work.
The project includes an exhibition,a give-back project and a book recording the research. A proportion of book sales will go towards sustainably funded, creativity exchanges between artists, designers and artisan.
Why Exposé Artisanal ?
Until recently there was a sincere and gentle-natured Fassi craftsman who wove grass prayer mats for worshipers to kneel on during personal and communal prayer. He interwove grasses in a stable-like workshop off the main thoroughfare of the ancient Fez medina. The shift in the demand from local, hand-crafted, natural materials to globally, factory-produced, plastic matting had been growing for some years. With offspring who nourish alternative ambitions, a lack of appreciation for his handicraft and his legacy coming to an end, the artisan and the craft of grass-woven prayer mats in Fez died out together. Other traditional Moroccan skills are diminishing with the passing away of the last generation of ‘Mallums/Mallumas ”, Master’ crafts people.
Meanwhile as the nature of tourism in Morocco develops and the number of visitors to Fez’ ancient medina increases, more and more handicrafts are being purchased with no introduction or increased benefit to them, the creators. Visitors, often held back by language are nervous about stepping into the workshops. Now, with Culture Vultures, guests are invited to discover who and what are behind the scenes in the craft workshops.
We aim to increase appreciation for the precious Fassi artisans and nurture a community of contributors to support the artisan ship in Fez, helping to keep the Fassi crafts alive and kicking.
Who is behind this crowd-funding project?
Jess Stephens is a visual artist, and passionate supporter of cultural heritage and contemporary art. She moved to Morocco with much fervor in 2007. Now a happy resident surrounded by hospitable neighbors, a rich history and much stimulation Jess lives in a market town close to Fez. Culture Vultures is an umbrella arts and culture organization that she established in 2009 for arts projects that connects artists from Fez and all corners of the globe with the public. Artisanal Affairs was set up two years ago for the public at visitors to Fez to meet the makers and creators behind the Famous Fassi crafts through tours, workshops and residencies. The past few years have been full and inspirational, leaving a legacy of rich experiences and cross-cultural encounters. See http://culturevulturesfez.org
The Fassi artisans involved in this project are warm, welcoming and resourceful characters who are happy and eager to share their stories and offer insights into their lives. Many of these master crafts people have forged their skills over a life time and still practice their crafts in the work spaces where they were apprentices.
Research and Researchers
Research will be carried out by Moroccan and international artists through Culture Vultures’ extensive local and international network, an artist residency program and portfolios already underway. The researchers will meet the makers, explore their processed and discover their stories, images and insights and give added value to what goes on backstage. Techniques, tales, myths, faith and daily events will be revealed to commemorate the unique personalities of the old medina, giving the artisans a voice.
The Arena of Fez
The ancient city of Fez, the oldest car-free urban environment in the world, was founded over 1200 years ago. It is known as the spiritual, knowledge and craft capitol of Morocco. Fez medina is a monumental labyrinth where many traditional crafts are still executed, some desperately trying to maintain the chain of their crafts long history.
Jess Stephens / Artist and Cultural Coordinator. – email@example.com
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