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Artist, cook, boxer, musician and cultural producer Yemoh Odoi was fascinated as a child by the desert and its nomadic inhabitants. The silence, the space, the absence of people and references. He left Ghana at the age of 18 and travelled his way up to Casablanca via Senegal and the magnificent Sahara.  He founded The Minority Globe to give voice to migrant identities through art. On our last day in Casa, the exhibition ‘Look at me’ opened. Photos of migrant women, taken by migrant women. “A migrant isn’t given anything. You’ve got to take. These women are taking their space.” A talk about emptiness. About how the absence of ‘everything else’ brings out true creativity. As Yemoh says it: “In the desert you can only hear the songs that are composed in your heart”.    References: The Minority Globe https://theminorityglobe.org/ Look at me https://theminorityglobe.org/LOOK-AT-ME Yemoh Odoi on music as a cultural mediator https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpkVdVXbREY
As a kid Grocco  – artist name, his real name is a well kept secret – wanted to make a difference “I’m gonna be King of Casablanca!”.  He worked hard and became a grafitti legend. His tag Trick54 can be found all over Marocco and is unavoidable in the urban Casablanca area.   Covid kept Grocco inside and he started to draw more. From his sketchbook, faces started to appear in the public domain. Ambivalent, yet tranquil faces, with holes and phallus-like bulges attached to them. Who is this creature? A visitor, is it Casablanca? Recently even more enigmatic works appear in the streets of the city: three-dimensional fragments, compositions, carefully layed out on the pavement. Is it trash, are they messages, is it language? For Grocco everything is a trick. Life is a trick, art is a trick.   Listen to a trickster who became a legend at the age of 30.    References: More on Grocco: https://www.instagram.com/_grocco_/ Grocco’s film: Untitled Life Experience https://consent.youtube.com/m?continue=https://www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3Dd5X0soQI2lM%26cbrd%3D1&gl=NL&m=0&pc=yt&hl=nl&src=1
We meet at Musée Collectif with all participants of this ‘who owns the city’ edition: Mouna, Bodil, Rubén, Samba and Mohamed. Maria could not make it but is present in spirit. Some new voices join: street artist Grocco/Trick54 (more on him in talk #4 and #9), cultural producer Jamal Abdennassar (who Wong & Krier worked with in 201o) and artist/curator Yemoh Odoi (who organises artistic residencies for underrepresented members of the migrant population with his organisation The Minority Globe). Last but not least: Francien van Westrenen from Het Nieuwe Insitituut is also present in this circle of Casa-voices. Musée Collectif is located close to a public fountain in Le parc de la Ligue Arabe. Miraculously our host Mohamed Faridji was able to turn it off, just for the length of this group talk.  We share the experiences and conversations of the past days and try to make sense of it: Casablanca as phoenix that burns and rises from its ashes, over and over again. The city as amplifier of notions, movements and manifestations. This migrant city invites to start over, to let go of what was. But how to solidify, to secure things in the long term? How to activate a collective memory? At the end of the talk Mouna thanks the internet. Is that the place to store Casa’s memories?   References: Les années de plomb (1956-1999, years of cultural repression) https://savoirs.rfi.fr/fr/comprendre-enrichir/histoire/maroc-les-annees-de-plomb Ancien théâtre municipal de Casablanca (1922-1984) https://www.geneanet.org/cartes-postales/view/347663#0 L’Uzine https://luzine.ma/ Casaprojecta http://casaprojecta.over-blog.com/ ICI Casa, Ville Inventive (2010) https://sophiekrier.com/portfolio/ici-casa-ville-inventive/
Mohamed Faridji co-founded Atelier de l’Observatoire in 2011, around the same time we – Wong & Krier – lived and worked in Casablanca for three months. At the time we did not meet, now we do. We were attracted by Le Musée Collectif (part of Atelier de l’Observatoire) a roaming museum, housed in sea container, presently located in Parc de la Ligue Arabe, which locals still call Parc Yasmina. Faridji is an artist/activist who attempts to cultivate a collective cultural memory of Casa: Is an obsolete polyester Mickey Mouse with one ear missing a piece of trash, or does it have cultural value? Faridji tries to answer this question by collecting, archiving and displaying cultural artefacts like this one-eared Mickey. His approach is inclusive, participatory and citizen driven. We chose the Musée Collectif as location for our final group talk.  We meet in the parc, where Sophie’s brain needs to work twice as hard as in in other talks: Mohamed speaks French, Krier interviews and translates at the same time. Well done, both Sophie and Mohamed! A talk about the absence of constructive cultural policy, cultural rights and how to deal with that. How to keep institutions that disappear – like the Casablanca Aquarium – present in the shared Casa memory? How to activate the imagination that is linked to those memories? Why? Faridji: “We need to celebrate humanity”.    References: Atelier de L’observatoire, Musée Collectif https://www.atelierobservatoire.com/musee-collectif L’Aquarium imaginaire https://www.atelierobservatoire.com/aquarium Parc Yasmina https://www.atelierobservatoire.com/musee-collectif-parc-yasmina
After taking us to Lac d’Oulfa, Sidi Moumen and Hay Mohammedi for our vertical field trip (talk #2), today Samba Soumbounou brings us to the neighbourhood where he first settled in Casa, arriving from Mauretania 10 years ago. He is a cultural engineer and mediator: connecting dots and making these connections meaningful and productive. Samba is the embodiment of social glue, extremely approachable, always willing to ‘step in’. During our stay his phone rings frequently and many people stop him in the streets to ask something or to just say hi. It earned him the hashtag #letscallsamba! We talk about the divide between people and policy making: the lack of communication. It makes sense that this topic matters to Samba. In Mauretania the Soumbounou family is responsible for the collective memory: to pass things on. His family is also associated with playing the drum. In Mauritanian culture the drum connects and harmonises. In Casablanca there is a lot to harmonise – capital investors, builders, politics, citizens: they don’t communicate well. In the end the city is determined by people, not buildings. It is not about the ‘what’. It is about the ‘who’ and ‘how’.    References: Kandara’Lab : Villes - Culture - Patrimoine (Samba Soumbounou, field trip guide) https://www.facebook.com/kandaralab/?modal=admin_todo_tour Afrikayna, foundation for pan-african mobility https://afrikayna.com/mobilite-artistique/ Café Espace de l’enfant, au parc la foret vert http://maps.app.goo.gl/RbPBJFPZkETkeNbEA?g_st=iw 
Bodil Ouédraogo was born and raised in Amsterdam by a Dutch mother and a father from Burkina Faso. As a human being and as a designer she cherishes her bi-cultural background. She studies it, she materialises it. In her own words: “I have no choice, my identity cannot be ignored.”  After an interesting fashion walk through Casa with Mouna Belgrini, we end up in the courtyard of a fabric store in wholesale district Derb Omar. Apart from the background noise an interesting context for our conversation. We talk about the art of dressing up and how combining different existing layers can form brand new identities. Ouédragaogo just came from Burkina Faso and Nigeria and she reflects on idea howt different cultures activate different types of (creative) thinking. We also talk about the classic ‘grand boubou’ as inspiration and the interesting properties of latex. Through the eyes of Bodil everything is related to identity: from a spray painted name tag in the streets to (fake) louis vuitton bags. After the talk we go shopping for home accessories. Because life = work = life.    References: More on Bodil Ouédraogo https://www.bodilouedraogo.com/ Cafe Antic https://www.google.com/maps/place/Caf%C3%A9+Antic+Palais/@33.5930385,-7.6169649,15z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x308f6d8a5b65d8b6!8m2!3d33.5930385!4d-7.6169649 Bram Owusu https://soundcloud.com/bkowusu Alára Lagos https://www.instagram.com/alaralagos/ Waffles N Cream https://www.wafflesncream.com 
Mouna Belgrini is the perfect tour guide: she knows Casablanca in and out, and she effortlessly connects places, facts and narratives. We could have roamed the city for weeks, but had to limit ourselves to a sublime day of walking and talking. Belgrini is a (photo)journalist, cultural producer and communicator. On a practical level this means Mouna is connecting, editing and distributing content 24/7. We talk about how she learned to live in this complex city, we talk about fear and joy, we look at street art and reflect on the impact the pandemic had on daily life in Casablanca. When we arrive at her apartment, we dive into what Mouna loves most: dance. From the moment she laid eyes on street dancers at art space L’Uzine, to creating a new space – both digital and physical – for creative energy/dance: Liquid Bridge.  We end the talk with a tour through digital Casablanca. What has a platform like Instagram brought to the city? And what does the future have in store for young – digital – personalities? Will they go, or are they here to stay?   References: Kabareh Cheikhats https://www.instagram.com/kabarehcheikhats/ Grocco/Trick54 https://www.instagram.com/_grocco_/ Liquid Bridge https://www.instagram.com/liquid.bridge/ Casa soccer team Red https://www.instagram.com/wacofficiel/ Casa soccer team Green https://www.instagram.com/rcaofficiel/ Karim Chater https://www.instagram.com/style_beldi/ Cheb Pablo Size M https://www.instagram.com/latal3a/ 
Rotterdam based photographer Rubén Dario Kleimeer portrays the urban landscape and the people inhabiting it. He uses the medium photography to analyse and better understand urban spaces. With the gaze of an urban ethnographer, he explores the built environment in which we live, work and dwell.  Kleimeer picked the spot for our conversation: Place des Nation Unies, a spacious square where different networks of transportation cross. At the far end of the square, in the shade of a tree, we talk about photography in relation to time and space. If you take a lot of time to make a picture, is that time reflected in the image? Does that image last longer than an instant snapshot? What places in the city is Kleimeer interested in? And what is the perfect perspective, angle to photograph them from?  Four months after our talk we meet again in Rotterdam, to take a closer look at the photos Rubén took during our days in Casa. Do these pictures last?   References: More on Rubén Dario Kleimeer https://www.rubendariokleimeer.com/ Anfa Park https://www.instagram.com/anfa_park/ Casablanca Tramway https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casablanca_Tramway Best drummers https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-lists/100-greatest-drummers-of-all-time-77933/ 
In the meantime all four participants/makers of this Casablanca edition have arrived: Bodil Ouédraogo, Rubén Dario Kleimeer, Mouna Belgrini and Samba Soumbounou. Next to local insider Maria Daïf, Francien van Westrenen from Het Nieuwe Instituut joins us for the five day programme that in the end results in this series of conversations, but kicks off with a ‘vertical field trip’. An attempt to ground ourselves and be truly present in the Casablanca ‘here and now’. Samba Soumbounou and Mouna Belgrini take us on a dazzling tour. We start in Firdaouss, a quiet small scale neighbourhood at the west side of the city, bordered by Lac El Oulfa, a former stone quarry, now an artificial lake. We pick up trash at the shore, circle the lake and have lunch at the central square. At the borders of the lake the pressure of commericial development is tangible. Samba took us here because he works in collaboration with the citizens, trying to improve the quality of public space.  In the evening we take the tram to Sidi Moumen and Hay Mohammedi at the east side of Casa, two vibrant working class neighbourhoods. We visit a cultural centre, a local market and take a peek at colonial architectural heritage, that over the years is ‘decolonised’ by its inhabitants.  This soundscape tries to capture the moods, sounds, views and smells of the day that made a big impression on all of us.    References: Bruit du frigo (urban creation collective) at Lac d’Oulfa https://bruitdufrigo.com/en/projets/fiche/la-fabrique-du-lac/   Subsaharan migrants in Morocco https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/growing-destination-sub-saharan-africans-morocco Les Etoiles de Sidi Moumen, cultural centre https://english.alaraby.co.uk/features/moroccos-sidi-moumen-cultural-centre-changing-futures-and-perceptions Hay Mohammadi: a re-appropriated modernist neighborhood https://www.thepolisblog.org/2012/07/adaptations-of-vernacular-modernism.html
In 2010, we  – Wong & Krier – lived and worked for three months in Casa, as locals call Casablanca. Aim was to embrace the city as a place of production and to make a portrait of its hidden qualities: We named it: ICI Casa, Ville Inventive. The resulting exhibition was an optimistic tribute to the resourcefulness of a thriving city. Many questions however were left unanswered once the residency was over: for instance the fragility and invisibility of the – quite substantial –  informal economy, and the gentrification of the city through capital investors, materialised in luxury shopping malls. More than ten years and a pandemic later, we return to Casa, in search of who makes the city, who owns it, and who is granted access to it.  We start this series of conversations with our local insider Maria Daïf. Maria spent 15 years as a cultural journalist (print and radio), then turned to cultural mediation, supporting independent art projects throughout the African/Arabic region. She is a fire starter, curator, writer and an important voice in contemporary Casablanca.  We meet Maria at the seaside, where we look out on the beach, an obsolete concrete swimming pool and the Atlantic Ocean. We talk about the late 90ies, early 2000s when King Mohammed VI took over from his father Hassan II, Moroccan society opened up and Maria’s career as a journalist blossomed. We also talk about the complicated dance between the authority, the rules and the people. Maria describes the difficult cultural climate: how things come, go and come again.  A talk about the past, present and future of a city that Daïf loves, and is about to leave. A new rural existence lingers beyond the horizon.    References: Magazine: Femmes du Marcoc https://femmesdumaroc.com/ Magazine: TELQUEL https://telquel.ma/ Creative collective Skefkef https://www.instagram.com/skefkefmag/ Art/cutural space L’Uzine https://luzine.ma/ ICI Casa, Ville Inventive (2010) https://sophiekrier.com/portfolio/ici-casa-ville-inventive/
Imagine a cold, dark and rainy afternoon in November. The group (Dimitrova, Espinosa, Zahn, Wong, Krier and audiotechnician Robert) gathers under an old amusement park bumper-car-roof. We wear silent headphones with discolights. We are in the shadows of Haus der Statistik, that houses artistic and research based projects during its renovation. We use a score by Mia Habib and walk clockwise in circles. Robert stands in the middle, holding the mic.  A walking, searching conversation that covers most subjects we touched upon these past few days: fluidity, violence, urban capitalism, the relation between body, city and health. The tone of the conversation is committed yet bleak. At the end Sophie lights up the space by quoting Puddles the Pelican: “It’s gonna be alright, even if it’s not gonna be alright”.  References: Glossary of Urban Praxis, Werkstätte Berlin, 2022: https://www.urbanepraxis.berlin/glossary-of-urban-praxis/?lang=en Modellprojekt Haus der Statistik: https://hausderstatistik.org Mia Habib: All, a physical form of protest: https://www.miahabib.com/?portfolio=all-a-physical-poem-of-protest Beyoncé, Formation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDZJPJV__bQ Body of Bodies, Stadterweitern: https://stadterweitern.de/publication A pluralistic universe, William James, 1908: https://journals.openedition.org/ejpap/756 Neue Kreuzberger Kunstverein: https://www.nbk.org/de Jeremy Wade aka Puddles the Pelican: https://showdownpodcast.podigee.io/69-new-episode
We do realise that outside our hyperfocused Berlin bubble, this city hosts many other lives and voices that deserve to be heared and recognised. And that is why – in this short intermission – we make room for Doreen, Vasille, Fluss Puss and Johanna, Berliners we met while walking the streets. What does fluidity mean to them? What brought them here? Who exactly is Berlin? Berlin Pigeons: https://www.exberliner.com/berlin/berlin-pigeons/ Fluss Pluss: https://soundcloud.com/flusspluss 
Sabine Zahn lives and works in Berlin. She investigates how choreographic strategies can help understand how urban space can be lived, expressed and transformed. She creates public research projects and processes which are often based on scripts that set something – often bodies – in motion. In 2021, Sabine was appointed a fellow in the DAS Graduate programme in Amsterdam. We had this conversation at Floating University, a place for learning and experiment in a neglected water basin at the fringe of Kreuzberg. Zahn thrives in places like this, where new ways of living and being – human and more than human – can be tried out and ‘rehearsed’.  A talk at dusk, when the light faded and the cold started to creep in. A conversation about the body as a tool to understand words, and words as the start of a choreography.  References: Floating University Berlin: https://floating-berlin.org/ Fremdgehen: http://www.lovelabours.net/ Stadterweitern: https://stadterweitern.de/publication DAS Graduate Programme: https://www.atd.ahk.nl/das-research/third/third-cohorts/sabine-zahn/ 
Tomás Espinosa is artist and activist. He works in both in Berlin and Bogotá. The tension between the ‘intimate’ and the ‘public’ fuels his work. He installed two hanging mirrors with holes in a Berlin park, where men meet for sex. He filmed the installation and put a soundscape under it in which you hear Espinosa cruising through the greenery, making contact with other male bodies. Is this a disturbance of a secretive meeting place, or an attempt to emancipate? He took this installation to Bogotá where he engages since 2015 with La Red Comunitaria Trans, a trans activist network. Together they develop actions, performances and videos.  A talk on a crisp, cold morning about fighting violence, having sex in public places, the urgency of protest, the worth of a life and the darker sides of fluidity.  References: Tomás Espinosa: https://www.tomasespinosa.com La Red Comunitaria Trans: https://redcomunitariatrans.org Cruising: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cruising_for_sex Necropolitics, Achille Mbembe: https://criticallegalthinking.com/2020/03/02/achille-mbembe-necropolitics/ 
Architectural researcher Kornelia Dimitrova co-founded Foundation We Are, a collective of nine creative minds and makers. We had a Warming Up Talk in 2020 with Kornelia and her co-founder Bernhard Lenger. Dimitrova’s analytic and bright approach of the built environment and social dynamics stuck with us, so we asked her to join us for our Berlin edition. In her own practice Dimitrova helps care organisations to address spatial and architectural issues by imagining alternative scenarios for use. In the past years she developed a strategic vision for De Grote Beek, one of the largest mental healthcare facilities in the Netherlands. Kornelia published her proposals in the Playbook for Healing Environments.  A talk – with a blazing fire in the background – about the value of mapping, working with what there is, and the art of proposing the right possibilities at the right time.  References: Kornelia Dimitrova: https://www.kodimitrova.com/ The Institut für Sexualwissenschaft, Berlin (1919-1933): https://magnus-hirschfeld.de/ausstellungen/institute/ Sectie C Eindhoven: https://www.sectie-c.com/site/ Stock photography: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stock_photography 
We start every pluriversal trip with a joined experience: a vertical fieldtrip, or an ‘acupuncture of place’ as Sophie Krier calls it. Guided by participant Sabine Zahn we (Tomás Espinosa, Kornelia Dimitrova, Benoît Verjat, Sophie Krier and Erik Wong) attempt to ‘feel’ one of the oldest, but now quite nondescript parts of Berlin: Fisherinsel. Sabine invites us to use our whole body and all our senses. We start at motor ship Heimatland that houses Hošek Contemporary, a residency/studio space that functions as our home base.  We walk, jump, stumble, roll, smell, touch, listen and observe. At the end you can listen to some personal audio notes. A very physical start of our fluid trip. References: Fisherinsel: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fischerinsel Hošek Contemporary: https://www.hosekcontemporary.com Bei Lydia: https://www.tripadvisor.ie/Restaurant_Review-g187323-d15036865-Reviews-Bei_Lydia-Berlin.html 
Although in time it was our last conversation, we decided to start this string of talks with Daan van Kampenhout. His take on fluidity is inspiring and a perfect introduction to our series ‘Fluid selves, fluid Berlin’. Van Kampenhout’s interest in shamanism started after having vidid dreams during a malaria infection. He graduated from art school with a series of costumes and rituals. After a life of travel, learning, publishing and teaching, Van Kampenhout still combines his ritualistic, systemic practice with designing costumes and performing. A talk on a quiet winter day about antidotes for hate, mediating between matter and spirit, a queer ancestors ritual and the importance of Berlin’s KitKatClub as a fun, fluid techno temple.  References: Daan van Kampenhout: https://daanvankampenhout.com/ Bert Hellinger: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bert_Hellinger Stretch Festival/Village: https://www.stretch.berlin/ Radical Faeries: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radical_Faeries KitKatClub: https://www.kitkatclub.org/ 
Ghanaian-Filipino architectural scientist Mae-ling Lokko is active in the field of biomaterials. A recent work discussed in this talk is Thresholds of Return, a gate made of waste from the Ghanian coconut industry. It is a reconstruction of the Door of No Return in Elmina (Ghana), through which the enslaved were led out of Africa. Wong & Krier got to know about Lokko’s work in Mull through Tom Morton (Arc Architects), with whom she designed an ‘open air classroom’ for the Future by Design Cove park residency in the lead up to COP26. Designer and researcher Henriëtte Waal co-initiated Atelier Luma, an experimental design laboratory in Arles, France, in 2016. Among other programs, Waal helped set up a residency programme there for designers, which is how she first met Lokko. Waal’s system-level projects integrate design, community and ecology and involve collaborations with scientists, communities, an international network of makers, and students. In this joyful and at times technical Friday afternoon talk, Lokko and Waal share memories and insights about food as a community binder and talk about practices of hardscaping versus ‘mounding’ (contouring permeable earth) to resolve water circulation problems in cities. Mae-ling introduces the idea/theory of generative justice (the bottom up creation, translation and circulation of value) and very vividly describes her recent installation Thresholds of Return. Henriette chimes in when ‘bioregional design’ come to the table: localty and Co2 footprint are easily overlooked in biobased design. Let’s start from the feet up.  https://henriettewaal.com/about/ www.z33.be/en/programma/mae-ling-lokko/
Just before we left we handed all the sounds we recorded along the way, over to sound engineer Martin Low. He mixed it into this soundscape. The last pearl of the string. Thank you Martin, Mull and everyone we’ve met along the way.
Aslı Hatipoğlu is weaver, researcher and cook. “By cooking in specific environments, and engaging with people from different cultural backgrounds, I run into stories, which lead me to subjects such as history, psychology, spirituality, ecology and science. I translate these stories into textiles or printed edible materials, and curate dinners around these topics, making use of the social interaction that takes place when we eat together.” Sadly enough Aslı could not join us on Mull, so Erik looked her up in Maastricht where she was a participant at Jan van Eyck Academie, a post graduate programme for art, design and reflection. A talk about cooking, recipes, the locality of food and culture, our relationships with microbes and the deeper understanding of life they provide.  We were inspired and overwhelmed by Mull and everything the island contains and shared with us.  This is one of 13 talks. We edited it like ‘a string of pearls’. It works best to jump from one pearl to the next, starting at the beginning… Enjoy!  For more context and information about our search for the pluriverse and the upcoming exhibition we are curating: go to pluriverse.hetnieuweinstituut.nl
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