Collective Museum 2014 - 2022
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Citizen project for a museum of collective memory.
January-February 2016, a.r.i.a, Alger
In the framework of a five-week residency at a.r.i.a, artist residency in algiers, Mohamed Fariji led a workshop at ENSBA (Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts d'Alger) focusing on notions of public space, reappropriation, negotiation and recuperation actions related to collective memory (objects, sound, image) and the city of Algiers.
Following his research in Algiers, Mohamed Fariji collected diverse objects belonging to the primary school C.E.M.P Mohammadia Lavigerie which had recently given way to the construction site of Algier's Great Mosque. He subsequently exhibited at aria, in a temporary manner, an Algerian display case.
The Collective Museum consists of a series of acts of recovery and collection of documents, photographs, objects, films, and memories from family and intimate life in cities, and from abandoned or former public spaces linked to daily family life (the aquarium, amusement parks, etc) and currently facing demolishment.
Building on his previous project The Imaginary Aquarium, about the former Casablanca aquarium (which led to an exhibition of the same name at Galerie Fatma Jellal in 2014), Mohamed Fariji continues his collect of ‘traces’ of disappeared, forgotten or marginalised Casablancan public spaces.
The installation of the Collective Museum, first outside the walls and then in an abandonned place, should encourage reflection on the memory of Casablanca and a collective commitment.
The museum's collection are regularly enriched by recovery actions and research through participatory mechanisms involving students, artists, activists, architects, researchers and anyone wishing to entrust their memory objects or to propose actions and methodologies of collection.
Then, the Museum welcomes and is particularly interested in recovered objects and documents soon to disappear from view, that recount a story of what might have otherwise no longer existed in any form.
It is regularly nourished by further collecting, salvaging and research, carried out through workshops, and by the artist, his collaborators and all those wishing to entrust their “memory-objects” or propose acts of collecting. This participative act is characterized by a will and desire for the creation of a collective memory. It is conceived as an alternative way of writing history, as an alternative to an “official history”, through a focus on collective and individual stories.
The Collective Museum project can also take the form of “action-presentations” in the public space or within institutions, and develops through participative actions involving students, artists, activists, architects, etc.
The Collective museum is leading other initiatives in different moroccan and foreign cities to develop its Satellites ( Workshop and presentation at a.r.i.a artist residency, Algiers, January 2016, Workshop and recovery act in Nouakchott 2017-2021, Show case and discussion in partnership with Le 18 in Marrakech 2017.
Presentation at the Marrakech Biennale, February 2016
Exhibition at Thinkart, Casablanca, October 2015
In parallel, Fariji runs, along with a group of artists, students and activists, regular salvage actions, implementing innovative and participative measures in the form of workshops: salvaging family photos in rubbish bins in collaboration with a ‘waste collector’, recovering hard discs sold in flea markets, digitising of family photographs in a working-class neighbourhood by students, neighbours, etc.
The participants will be able to choose between working collectively on an identified space, or carrying out individual projects according to their interests, personal history, local area, etc. They will focus on places or objects of particular relevance to the city’s collective memory that are currently being, or soon to be, destroyed or rendered inaccessible.
October 2015, Casablanca
In October 2015, Fariji organised another large-scale ‘recovery action’ inside the legendary Yasmina Park (amusement park for children in the centre of Casablanca, abandoned for the last 15 years). Just when it was being demolished to make way for the rehabilitation project for the Arab League Park, Mohamed Fariji went to recover carousels, photographs, tickets, frescoes, documents and other objects symbolic of the park’s memory.
This ‘salvage’, in partnership with Casa Amenagement, is the fruit of long-term awareness-raising efforts regarding the preservation of modern cultural heritage and the importance of such spaces of “collective memory”, particularly targeting the city’s public bodies, but also companies organising the destruction, and passers-by and temporary inhabitants of the park, who were all involved in this project as partners.
Thus, a large part of what was salvaged (carousels, games, pedalos, cash registers, frescoes, paintings and light fixtures) will be incorporated into the Collective Museum: a museum dedicated to the memory of cities.
October 2015, Thinkart, Casablanca
During the demolishment (strongly criticised by civil society and defenders of the city’s heritage) of the Ibnou Abbad primary school on Ziraoui Boulevard in Casablanca, Mohamed Fariji organised an undercover operation to recover objects, class photos, furniture, maps, books and other “memories”, testimonies from across the lifespan of a public space that saw thousands of Casablancan school children pass through its doors.
These objects, on the point of being buried by bulldozers already in action, formed the Collective Museum’s first display case. It was presented to the public in October 2015 at Thinkart, Casablanca.