Marrakech Biennale in Morocco
From the city’s intoxicating energy to its international roots as a cultural melting pot, Marrakech is an enchanting place unlike any other. With a unique fusion of European, African and Arab influences, you’re welcomed by a glorious array of vibrant colors, dazzling scents in the form of freshly brewed mint tea and cumin and the mysterious traditions native to Morocco.
It’s no surprise that jet set designers such as Yves Saint Laurent and Loulou de la Falaise loved and were inspired by this place so much.
I first visited back in 2014 and immediately fell in love with the city’s magical force, feasting on every textile in sight, dodging motorbikes and donkeys alike while traversing the narrow streets.
On any given day you can spend hours strolling through the Medina’s winding souks getting to know the artisans and their favorite hidden places. Nothing beats allowing yourself to roam freely under the warm North African sunshine while weaving in and out of locally owned stalls decorated with gorgeous ornate lanterns, rugs, pottery, jewelry and various artworks.
Even at sundown the hectic, yet bedazzling, main square of the Jemaa el Fna continues to entertain with an electric cast of characters, musicians, henna artists and street food traders.
While Marrakech is a place rooted in heritage and history, its modern elements are not to be overlooked. Packed with gorgeous design led galleries, riads, restaurants and cutting edge events, there’s something for everyone here.
I went out there most recently for the opening of the Marrakech Biennale, currently on through the end of May. Launched in 2005 by Vanessa Branson and Abel Damoussi and now in its six edition, the festival is free and open to the public. Its aim is to build bridges between diverse cultures through the arts with a curated selection of international artists working across all mediums.
Entitled Not New Now, this year’s Biennale examines the current disposable and materialistic lifestyles consuming modern culture while also highlighting global topics surrounding climate, migrant and mobility issues.
If you happen to find yourself in Marrakech, rest your head at Riad Jardin Secret, dine at NoMad and don’t leave without visiting Maison De La Photographie and Jardin Majorelle.
Kelley Mullarkey is a sustainability researcher, lecturer and the editor and founder of majestic disorder, an arts + culture magazine and creative agency based in London.