Gateway to the Mediterranean

Tangier, Morocco, 2021

Our research led us to Tangier, Morocco⁠—second stop of our journey. This is the place where back in 2006, even before the Arab Spring started, artist Yto Barrada encouraged the creation of the Cinémathèque de Tanger—one of the most significant cultural centers in North Africa. The restoration of the Rif Cinema, which overlooks Grand Socco—where the Medina and the Marina meet—is more than an act of love for cinema or of resistance as urban archaeology. It is the prototype of an innovative institution that proves independent from the local meddling of the political and economic powers, and constitutes an excellent education gateway in a civil society forged by art in all forms.

The artist herself shows us the expansion of the city, stepping across its borders and leading us through illegal neighborhoods, factories reshaped by the new market, and Tanger Med—a gigantic industrial port complex, located between the Atlantic and Mediterranean, between Europe and Africa. Considerable investments are rapidly changing Tangier’s identity. So, if trade has historically determined the cultural hybridization of the area, can art become today a means of understanding the nature of the present transformations?