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Imagined Museums

Art and Modernity in Postcolonial Morocco

Katarzyna Pieprzak

Publication Year: 2010

Imagined Museums examines the intertwined politics surrounding art and modernization in Morocco from 1912 to the present by considering the structure of the museum not only as a modern institution but also as a national monument to modernity, asking what happens when museum monuments start to crumble.
In an analysis of museum history, exhibition policy, the lack of national museum space for modern art, and postmodern exhibit spaces in Morocco, Katarzyna Pieprzak focuses on the role that art plays in the social fabric of a modernizing Morocco. She argues that the decay of colonial and national institutions of culture has invited the rethinking of the museum and generated countermuseums to stage new narratives of art, memory, and modernity. Through these spaces she explores a range of questions: How is modernity imagined locally? How are claims to modernity articulated? How is Moroccan modernity challenged globally?
In this first cultural history of modern Moroccan art and its museums, Pieprzak goes beyond the investigation of national institutions to treat the history and evolution of multiple museums—from official state and corporate exhibition spaces to informal, popular, street-level art and performance spaces—as cultural architectures that both enshrine the past and look to the future.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

Note on Translation and Transliteration

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

The list of people who contributed directly and indirectly to this book is long, and I cannot begin to do justice here to the intellectual and emotional support that I received throughout this project. ...

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Introduction: Entering the Museum

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pp. xi-xxx

As we walked the crowded streets of the Fez medina toward the Batha Museum, high school student Najib Chami turned to me and asked, “Why should I go to a museum when I live in one?” Apart from a general contempt for tourism as something for foreigners, Najib’s question revealed his awareness of his own limited possibilities. ...

Part I. Monumental Sites of Discourse: National Museums, Corporate Collections, and Cabinets of Curiosity

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1. Degeneration and Decay in the National Museum: Useful and Useless Memory in Modern Morocco

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pp. 3-36

Moroccan museums do not exist. Moroccan museums are failed institutions. These two statements are the most common responses that Moroccan artists, curators, and academics initially give when asked to talk about museums in Morocco. The museums that they refer to are the national museums, and their critique of the institution is ultimately a critique of state support for arts infrastructures. ...

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2. Marketplace Museums: Art and Citizenship in Corporate Morocco

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pp. 37-66

Although the cultural elite has lamented the lack of meaningful national museums in Morocco since the postindependence period, local markets and corporate marketplaces have reinterpreted the museum for their own purposes and profit. Whether through small medina businesses that advertise themselves as museums or large corporations ...

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3. A Private Cabinet of Curiosity: The Belghazi Museum and Its Politics of Nostalgia

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pp. 67-88

Where do objects of outrageous memory go? What place is there in national museums and corporate collections for the curious and the historically bizarre? In 1979 art historian E. H. Gombrich bemoaned the scientific didacticism and lack of creativity of the modern museum: ...

Part II. Tactical Architectures of Art: Discursive, Ephemeral, and Nomadic Museums

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4. Imaginary Museums and Their Real Phantoms: Exorcising Monumental Discourse

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pp. 91-126

What would it mean to create a museum of art that houses discourse rather than objects? And positions on art and the modern rather than modern art itself? For many in the museum world, this would be the ultimate travesty, the betrayal of the object, and the end of art as Hegel predicted. ...

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5. Taking Art to the Streets: The Ephemeral Outdoor Museum as Contact Zone

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pp. 127-158

Every summer, cultural festivals take place all over Morocco. From June through August 2006, more than fifteen festivals of art, music, and cinema were staged in beachside towns and large urban areas. With displays and performances that mix elements of folklore, technology, the “traditional,” and the “modern,” ...

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Conclusion: Rethinking the Museum in Morocco

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pp. 159-178

In Le Maroc en mouvement: Créations contemporaines (2001), Brahim Alaoui and Nicole de Pontcharra of the Institut du Monde Arabe speak of Moroccan artists, both literary and visual, as “the face of modern Morocco, that of the freedom of thought.” They declare that “the time has come for artistic creation to be recognized as primordial in the projects of a modern society.”1 ...


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pp. 179-196


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pp. 197-212


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pp. 213-223

About the Author

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p. 255-255

E-ISBN-13: 9780816673476
E-ISBN-10: 0816673470
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816665198

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2010