Hello Hicham, can you introduce yourself in a few sentences?
My name is Hicham Bouzid, I am 29 years old, I was born in Tangier. I work as an art director and curator, my curatorial practice lives around different projects: I organize exhibitions, seminars, podcasts, artist residencies, open studios and more recently, I came back to something that really fascinates me which is publishing, by creating a magazine called Makan. The different mediums that I practice tend towards the same objective, around the contemporary issues that cross Moroccan society today. I try to create a narrative that emanates from our specific context.
I didn't study in the art world but I learned on the job, I started working as a bookseller at the Insolites bookstore in Tangier before moving to Marrakech in 2013 where I had the great pleasure of being part of the launch of 18, Derb el Ferrane, a multidisciplinary cultural riad in the heart of the medina of Marrakech. This space of cultural and artistic experimentation was an extraordinary experience for me and opened the door to many opportunities and encounters.
In 2016, I relocated to Tangier and created the ThinkTanger platform, a cultural project that explores the social and spatial issues of the city of Tangier.
Can you tell us more about ThinkTanger?
This year, ThinkTanger celebrates its 5th anniversary, although the project started as a one shot.
When Amina Mourid and I launched the project, the question was simple: what's going on in Tangier? Around us, there was a lot of change: exploded streets, new neighborhoods, new urban infrastructure. ThinkTanger is interested in the impact of urban change on people's lives and thinks about the city of Tangier through a cultural lens. It is very important to highlight the experience of the people of Tangier, a city that has suffered from a false image: that of the Beat Generation, trashy, sexy and bohemian, at the crossroads of continents... But this image does not fit today's reality.
Our cultural program takes shape around a cycle of reflection, a theme. We structure it around meetings with artists, researchers, urban planners, activists, who are interested in living together in a city. We also have a program of artist residencies, open studios, exhibitions and publications through the Makan magazine, trying to involve an ever-wider community. Our studio is located in the center of the city, but we create a link with the periphery through an urban laboratory program that we develop with communities from these neighborhoods, always to reflect the urban and social change of the city of Tangier through people's experiences.
In the context of Atelier Kissaria, you question the notion of craft, in what terms?
Atelier Kissaria is a space dedicated to the production of printed objects and images, launched one year after Think Tangier. In Morocco, the kissaria is the ancestor of the mall, the place where you can find everything. We wanted to create the kissaria of practices, a place where you can screen print your poster, produce a fabric, etc.
I was lucky enough to meet and collaborate with the artist Yto Barrada, also from Tangier, whose work is an inspiration to us, who offered to share her Tangier workshop with us. When I launched the Kissaria workshop, it was less to produce than to question production, the role of craft as an artistic practice in itself and to reinscribe craft practices in a process of artistic production, because in Morocco and in other African countries, the history of art is extremely linked to craft. Personally, I consider that a carpet produced by a weaver and in which patterns and symbols reflect something beyond decoration. There is also an obvious link between the craft and the city, today artisans find themselves, because of the massive industrialization of a city like Tangier, away.
Today we focus on printing and independent publishing, through screen printing, which I also practice personally and which, itself, is a craft practice, ancestral, at the center of artistic production. The Kissaria workshop will evolve into the Tangier Print Club.
Can you tell us about your relationship with the city of Tangier?
Tangier still has a small town or even village atmosphere, even though it is a metropolis of 2 million inhabitants (which lacks the infrastructure of a metropolis...) People have a routine, I see the same people at the café de Paris every day. I love this city very much, I am fully committed to it because it gives me a unique opportunity to develop extraordinary things. Tangier inspires me, I observe what happens on a daily basis, I observe the people. In the city center, where I live, extremely different backgrounds and socio-economic categories come together, which is not the case in other cities. I really like this absurd human mix.
To what extent do you define yourself as Mediterranean?
I define myself as Mediterranean first of all by the food: eating a tomato and feeling the sun inside. In Tangier, despite the super and hypermarkets that have sprung up everywhere, there are still places like the jbala market. Three times a week, the jebliat, these women who live in the mountains, come down to the city to sell their products, vegetables, fruits, seeds, farm eggs, excellent olive oil, etc. For me, the Mediterranean is all about these small daily pleasures that are not very expensive and that have all their importance. I am also thinking of the mix of cultures found in Tangier and in the Mediterranean. I also want a southern Mediterranean identity, where borders still exist. I feel that I don't belong to the same side of the Mediterranean as some people who can go back and forth: I see Tarifa every day but I don't have access without a visa!