Casa Arabe, Madrid, Spain
24 Feb 2022 - 15 May 2022
As of February 24, Casa Arabe’s headquarters in Madrid will be hosting this exhibition, the first fully devoted to contemporary art from Mauritania outside of the country’s borders. The show, organized with Casa África, showcases the work of eleven artists from the African nation.
Memories in Motion: Contemporary art from Mauritania is the first exhibition fully devoted to contemporary art from Mauritania outside of the country’s borders, featuring works by Mamadou Anne, Oumar Ball, Zeinab Chiaa, Daouda Corera, Malika Diagana, Béchir Malum, Saleh Lo, El Moctar Sidi Mohamed “Mokhis” Amy Sow, Mohamed Sidi and Moussa Abdallah Sissako.
Despite the geographic proximity and close historical and cultural ties between Spain and Mauritania, the Spanish public has very little exposure to Mauritanian forms of artistic expression. This is the reason which has led Casa Árabe and Casa África to carry out this project, to be held at the headquarters of both institutions throughout 2022, with three exhibitions on display in the cities of Madrid, Cordoba and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
This exhibition, curated by Aicha Janeiro, explores the ways in which memories—whether personal, collective or cultural—are manifested through various creative processes within the contemporary art movement in Mauritania. The paintings, photographs, installations and sculptures in the exhibition provide us with the opportunity to reflect upon the connections between memory andimagination, an issue examined within Mauritania’s current art scene, thus giving us a closer look at different personal and collective stories intermixed with symbolic elements and underlying references to folk traditions such as poetry, African oral tradition, Arabic, Chinese and Tifinagh calligraphy, traditional Tuareg crafts, or everyday objects and life. Similarly, the artists show their concern for current issues shared with other places around the planet, including the environment, migration, the status of women in society, cultural mixing and the recent pandemic.
With a history marked by movement, interaction and adaptation, Mauritania’s territory is distinguished by its wide coastal strip, bathed by the waters of the Atlantic, and a mainly desert geography and climate where the white and red dunes of the Sahara transform into savannah in the south, in the valley of the Senegal River. In the interior, mainly in the Adrar region, various archeological sites bear witness to human presence and artistic expression since the Neolithic, thanks to the discovery of tools, handicrafts, etchings and cave paintings that include different symbols, animals and anthropomorphic figures.
The forms of artistic expression in Mauritania are a part of the cultural, geographical and political context of the Sahel region, holding a true crossroads of cultures within its territory. Marked by various processes linked to globalization and references to Mauritania’s or other countries’ cultural heritage, the works by the eleven artists in the exhibition are an expression of the rich, fascinating cultural hybridization which defines the country’s capital, Nouakchott, where these creators live most of the time.
In addition to the exhibitions at the headquarters of Casa Árabe and Casa África, other activities have been scheduled throughout the year to put the spotlight on Mauritania, including a film series with titles such as “Soleil, O” by Med Hondo,“En attendant les hommes” by Katy Léna N’diaye and “Heremakono” by the great filmmaker Abderrahmane Sissako.