After talking with my friends and colleagues about my mini adventure, I was surprised to learn how few people knew what a Biennale was. So, if your one of those people here’s a little background...
Biennales are international art festivals hosted by large cities across the world, and are typically held every two years. Currently, there are 46 countries that stage Biennales. Typically lasting over 12 weeks, they provide a platform to showcase international artists, attracting thousands of visitor, which provides a great boost to a city's tourism.
Discover amazing art to behold everywhere your travels take you
When I walked into the main square of the ruined palace, I was blown away by what I saw. In front of me in the distance was a mesmerizing (and huge) piece of work (16.8 x 21.4m) scaling one of the old palace walls. The piece, 'Kindred View Points' was the handiwork of Nigerian artist El Anatsuie. In the artist's words, the piece ‘is a manifesto of the Biennale's theme engaging with issues of the new and the present’. Suddenly, the title NOT NEW NOW made a bit more sense and the work's sheer vastness combined with seeing an ancient site adorned with something so modern, added to its impact.
On closer inspection, I learned that the piece was made out of bits of scrap metal, which were knotted together in such a way that from a distance it looked like it was comprised of fabric with huge folds, which made it all the more genius.
Bringing together art and travel, a Biennale is a fantastic way to learn about a new city
Stumble upon new artists and observe their unique styles and breathtaking creations
Other highlights I saw included a piece by artist Fatiha Zemmouri, which featured a huge piece of polystyrene made to look like a rock stuck between two of the existing palace walls; and a series of seven large, beautifully intricate vases by artist Rachid Koraichi, which were cleverly positioned on one of the old palaces pools.
After being told numerous times that the Palais El Bahia was closed on a Sunday and I must go to the leather market, and getting lost despite according to my map all to do was walk a straight line, I arrived at another of the main sites of the Biennale - The Palais El Bahia.
The Palais El Bahia is an incredible building drenched in classic Moroccan tiling and incredibly intricate patterning. Here 12 artists were showing their work including film, sculpture and photography. For me this site didn’t work so well - the interplay between the art and the building wasn’t as evident, which is what brought such magic to the work at Palais El Badi. That being said, it's a 'must see' destination, despite the Sunday crowd, which made it much busier, so in some instances, I couldn’t get close to the works.
Bringing together art and travel, a Biennale is a fantastic way to learn about a new city and enhance the visitor's experience. I love that art is a safe space to explore some really challenging issues we face in the modern world, allowing others to open up debate in a unique way. I think I have found my calling - Biennales here we come! So, if you're looking for a weekend in a fascinating city and you want to see some art – get yourself to Marrakech before the first week in May – you won’t regret it.