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Mute Memory: Ahmed Bouanani's Morocco

Omar Berrada

Thursday, February 11, 7:00 p.m.

L’hôpital is a cult classic of contemporary Moroccan literature. Mirage is widely considered to be one of the most important feature films made in North Africa. Nevertheless, their polymath author, Ahmed Bouanani (1938-2011), died in relative obscurity. He shunned the limelight and, unless friends forced his hand, avoided sending his work to publishers. In a sense, Bouanani’s oeuvre is still forthcoming: his death uncovered dozens of completed manuscripts, of many genres—poetry, fiction, plays, film scripts, essays, history books, as well as drawings and graphic novels. Omar Berrada has been studying this invaluable archive, along with Bouanani’s daughter Touda and a few other devotees. In this talk he will attempt to argue for the relevance of Bouanani’s work in rethinking North African literary and cinematographic modernism and its links to oral traditions and popular culture. By considering the cultural and political context of Morocco in the 60s and the 70s, he will also attempt to account for the obstinate silences of a writer who was part of a most vocal generation of artists, the generation gathered around the journal Souffles, to which Bouanani contributed for a brief period.

Omar Berrada is a writer and translator, and the director of Dar al-Ma’mûn, a library and artists residency in Marrakech. Previously, he hosted public programs at the Centre Pompidou and radio shows on France Culture, and curated the Tangier International Book Salon. He is the author of many translations from English into French and is active in the bilingual poetry collective Double Change and the international arts organization Tamaas. He has recently co-curated the ‘Temporary Center for Translation’ at The New Museum, and is a visiting scholar with the Comparative Literature department at NYU. As part of the 2016 Marrakech Biennale, he is curating a group exhibition under the title Memory Games: Ahmed Bouanani Now.