School of Casablanca

ThinkArt, Casablanca, Morocco
31 May 2021 - 05 Jun 2021

Group photo in front of Dr Ziou Ziou’s service accommodation in Berrechid, June 1981, Archives Dr Ziou Ziou.

Group photo in front of Dr Ziou Ziou’s service accommodation in Berrechid, June 1981, Archives Dr Ziou Ziou.

Berrechid 81: A look back at a collective experience at the edge of art and psychiatry

In the hot early summer of 1981, an unusual activity took place at the psychiatric hospital of Berrechid, Morocco. Painters, writers, directors, and intellectuals were invited to share the daily life of the patients for one week. This experience would open up the hospital—a sanctuary of madness known all over Morocco—to its immediate environment. Murals were made; concerts, discussions, and other happenings were organised; the press were invited. The citizens of Berrechid would finally be at liberty to visit this fortress of insanity for the first time. The main idea of this event was to bring the conditions of patient care at the hospital to light. There was also a firm will to bring in other segments of society (and especially artists) into the narrative around patient care.

This experience was part of a global approach that Dr. Ziou Ziou Abdellah began in 1975. By opening up to anti-psychiatric practices and with a growing interest in popular forms of treatment of the mentally ill beyond the psychiatric establishment, Dr. Abdellah’s project synthesised different forms and modalities of mental health care in Morocco. Unfortunately, for various reasons, this dynamic was stopped and later forgotten.

Through an in-depth research of archival material (oral, written, and visual) from this period, Abdeslam Ziou Ziou reconstructs the threads of a family history that intersect national and transnational collective dynamics. He explores questions of how to make research of the folds of familial intimacy visible. How to abrogate a planned oblivion? And how do collective dynamics come to life and die?

Part of the School of Casablanca
The School of Casablanca is a collaborative project that takes as its starting point the legacy of the Casablanca Art School and its innovative pedagogical methods and exhibition strategies in 1960s Morocco.

KW Institute for Contemporary Art and Sharjah Art Foundation, in collaboration with Goethe-Institut Marokko, ThinkArt, and Zamân Books & Curating have initiated the School of Casablanca. The project includes research residencies, public programs, a digital archive and a touring exhibition of new works created by the residents as well as an exhibition of historical works by the artists who were originally associated with the Casablanca Art School. Launched in 2020, the initiative will continue through 2024.

This public program accompanies Abdeslam Ziou Ziou’s research residency at ThinkArt in Casablanca, Morocco, which ran from October 2020 – May 2021. The program marks a milestone in his research and field work, which contribute to an ongoing investigation/installation on familial and public archives of the Berrechid Psychiatric Hospital in Morocco and its ground-breaking therapeutic practices at the junction of art and psychiatry.

Open Studio
Monday, May 31 – Thursday, June 3, 2021
1:00 – 7:00 PM

Friday, June 4, 2021
10:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Berrechid 81: Installation of archives
This construction of archives reveals the different steps undertaken in research around a collective experience for mental health care in Morocco between 1975 et 1986.
This work has been fueled by a constant dialogue with artists and researchers—Ahmad Karmouni, Imane Zoubii, Saïd Rami, Youssef El Foutouhi, Nourredine Ezzeraf, and the members of the group “Les Démissionnaires du Brunch”.
Due to current health security requirements, access to the Open Studio is limited. We will do our best to accommodate all guests in compliance with social distancing measures. If you have a specific requirement, please send us an email to

Online Studio
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
5:00 – 7:00 PM

Link to registration:
A presentation by Abdeslam Ziou Ziou on the outcome of his six-months-long research residency followed by a discussion with the curators, fellows, and partners of the School of Casablanca.
The event is moderated by Salma Lahlou.

Closed Studio
Friday, June 4, 2021// Psychiatry
12:00 PM – 6:00 PM

Looking at the “Pavilion 36 Experience” in the light of today’s psychiatric practices 
Taking the innovative therapeutic experience at the Pavilion 36 in 1975 in Casablanca as its starting point, this meeting aims to discuss the different forms of care of the mentally ill in contemporary Morocco. Various practitioners, researchers, and psychiatrists will debate the current situation of the care of the mentally ill in the light of experiences, which took place in different institutions in Morocco (Berrechid, Salé, Casablanca).

Saturday, June 5, 2021// Art and Psychiatry
1:00 PM – 8:00 PM

A (great?) Time
Lunch and collective conversation with the artist-participants of the Berrechid experience, Toni Maraini, and Dr. Ziou Ziou Abdellah, followed by a discussion with invited attendees (emerging Moroccan artists, psychiatrists, and researchers).