Set up in Amsterdam, in 1983, at the instigation of its current President, Michel Leveau, the Olfert Dapper Foundation takes its name from a xviith-century Dutch humanist who, despite never leaving his native country, wrote an encyclopedic description of Africa, first published in 1668.
The purpose of this private non-profit organization is to raise the profile of sub-Saharan Africa’s artistic heritage and contribute to its conservation, by staging exhibitions and awarding research bursaries.
Director Christiane Falgayrettes-Leveau was on the Musée du quai Branly steering committee from 1999 to the end of 2004 and is a member of the Committee for the Memory of Slavery (CPME), set up on January 5th 2004.
He was born in Edirne, the then capital city of the Ottoman Empire state. His father was sultan Murad II (1404-51). At the age of 21, he conquered Constantinople, bringing an end to the medieval Byzantine Empire. He also claimed the title of Caesar of Rome in addition to his other titles, Ottoman Sultan and Caliph, after the conquest of Constantinople. Mehmed II’s reign is also well-known for the religious tolerance with which he treated his subjects, especially among the conquered Christians, which was very unusual for Europe in the middle ages.
Now in its tenth edition, The Recontres de Bamako biennal was founded to promote African photographic creation. Based in particular in the tradition of portrait photography that developed in Mali in the 1960s. The event provides an excellent springboard for emerging talents, perfectly in step with the international scene.
(1886-1962) Were a French orientalist painter and son of the famous Art Nouveau furniture designer, Louis Majorelle. He arrived in Morocco in 1917, invited by the French Resident-General, Marshal Lyautey. Majorelle was seduced by Marrakesch. In 1923, he decided to live there, purchasing a vast palm grove that would become the Majorelle Garden we know today.
In 1980, Pierre Berge and Yves Saint Laurent acquired the Jardin Majorlele, saving it from real estate developers. Since the, the garden has been restored, and many new plants have been added
The term kilim comes from Turkish and Eastern Persian. It means “covering”. Kilims are flat tapestry carpets woven by passing the weave through the warp; this is one of its uniqueness that determines its design. Geometric patterns are the most common: Diagonal lines mainly forming reversed diamonds and triangles that are spread across the design, by creating a border or following a pattern, some of them with symmetrical patterns covering the entire bottom of the carpet. As well as decorations, colours give an ideal touch to kilims: Maroon, blue, dark brown.
Rugs manufactured by women from the Berber tribes of the Upper Atlas region of Morocco, made from recycled textiles with wonderful colouring in which the female universe is embodied violently and smugly. These highly original rugs are aesthetically very powerful and whose shapes and colours are striking and daring.
The craftswomen do not follow any predefined guidelines or patterns when manufacturing these rugs, rather they improvise freehand without placing any limits on the creative spirit to achieve their goal.
Recycled materials used create a bond between primitive and modern art forms. A genuine canvas of modern abstract art, like a Kandinsky painting displayed without contrivances on the floor.
Until rather recently, these rugs were not traded due to the apparent scarcity of their materials, however, they have begun to appear in western markets as a result of their authenticity and aesthetic worth.
A good way of recognising new arrivals to a city is, if you are travelling alone, is a muted anger whereas if you are travelling in company, this takes the form of an open argument.
Distrust, doubts, the relative nature of what one takes as read at a few hours’ distance, undermine the bemused and weary traveller’s patience.
Perhaps it is in these moments when the journey reveals itself to the traveller.
For a long time I warned that there was no tourist who was not a traveller
Later on, after travelling for many years, I reached the conclusion that this dichotomy did not go beyond the mind of the person in question. How would a mursi distinguish this?
I fear that wherever one is travelling, the most likely thing is that most people do not manage, rightly so, to distinguish you from a bog-standard group of tourists.
Let’s live with this
The exotic dramatic quality of Arabic decoration is extraordinary. A means of escape from the industrialised western decoration so overly confused as to what it aims to aspire to in terms of luxury and the limitation of its resources to serialised, repetitive and angular constructions offering furnishings with laboratory materials resulting in simply pale imitations of the past.
Nature, colour, constructive sets, exquisite materials, engaging ambiences, etc. all of these attract us the decoration projected through magazines as samples of a new luxury concept.
However, is Arabic decoration truly Arabic? Contemporary Arabic culture does not offer, except on rare occasions, any of these aesthetic principles. Even its aspiration is to foolishly mock western standards adding a further over-top-touch, ostentatiousness and bad taste.
In truth that sample of an aesthetic universe based on traditional Arabic culture has been recreated by western foreigners (refined and well-to-do foreign with new horizons free from the inherent atavisms of the west).
Even the recovery of traditional trade, handicrafts and pieces form part of this trend. There is still room for many unanswered questions on philosophical, political, anthropological and religious grounds, although there is plenty of time for them to be asked. The idea has been thrust forward; Arabic decoration is in fact European decoration.
It is worthwhile underlining that this is no way conditions the enjoyment and delight we take from a truly fascinating decorative model that is destined to make us reconsider interior design in the west.
I have tried all types, A4 size, A5 size, pamphlet size, hardback or paperback, with plain or lined pages… After so many trips these notepads form part of my personal memoirs just like any iconic travelling legend (Marco Polo, Ibn Batuta…)
Therein we find the greatest distractions that the traveller’s mind conjures up during the abundant moments of calmness and reflexion as well as mundane entries such as daily expenses.