Play it again (and again!) in Casablanca

| by Billy Cowie

Tags: Company blog

Well, in Casablanca I played my films Tango de Soledad and t’es pas la seule again and again (200 times each!). One of the joys of a looping installation is that people can come back again and again, and also bring their friends - and the students at the campus of Faculté des Lettres Ben M'sik just kept coming back (see photos). All in all, around 450 visitors came, leaving comments in Arabic, French and something resembling English. Moroccan national TV news also turned up to do some filming; a bonus of old style 3D is that the glasses make the audience as interesting as the show!

The work was being shown as part of the Casablanca International Festival of Video Art, a fantastic and diverse mixture of very different work – films, installations, animations, VJs, sound performances etc. from all around the world. The space I had was part of a group of four installations with interactive works from three very talented young artists - Jaime Patarroyo (Columbia), Anusorn Khabpet (Thailand) and Tijmen Lohmeijer (Netherlands), who also proved great company on our evenings exploring the nightlife of Casablanca under the expert guidance of Farah Fawzi - the British Council officer who solved all problems effortlessly and knows all the gin joints in town, and how to deal with the awkward taxi drivers who take you there!

As well as the installations, I also did some workshops with Tunisian and Moroccan artists culminating in a Skype conference with artists in Wales. From Tunisia, I had the talented young animator Rayan Moussa and the multi-talented Rehab Hazgui, and from Morocco, Abdellatif Farhate a.k.a Kalamour, Zouheir Atbane and Youssef Ouchra - all working across installation, vjing and projection. For these sessions we had the services of an excellent simultaneous translator who gave me the unnerving feeling (last experienced in China) that what he was saying was actually more coherent and fascinating than my original. How he dealt with Skype distortion and excitable Welsh accents is a miracle - hats off to him! Nevertheless, for my final lecture I decided to go it alone and give it in French! Everyone understood perfectly I think, apart from a poor Bulgarian artist - oh well you can’t win them all. Many of the other international artists were also delivering workshops, some of which I was lucky enough to attend. This had the effect of turning the festival into a truly enriching educational experience instead of just a showcase.

The festival organisers were kindness itself, making sure everything ran smoothly despite the huge number of events and tight financial situation - even organising communal lunches for all participants - when I explained I was vegetarian they were bemused by the concept but made me my own special every day. I was also blessed with student helpers who enthusiastically beckoned shy students in and used their x-ray vision to see if anyone had inadvertently slipped the glasses into their pockets...

All in all I think the week will have long-lasting effects with many valuable contacts (and ongoing collaborations) made between the Tunisian, Moroccan and Welsh students (and the other international participants, not to mention myself). Also I must say I had a wonderful time, so many thanks to Cathy, Laura and Farah and the British Council!


  • (c) Billy Cowie
  • (c) Billy Cowie
  • Tango de Soledad (c) Billy Cowie
  • (c) Billy Cowie
  • T'es pas la seule (c) Billy Cowie

Billy Cowie's trip to Casablanca was facilitated by the British Council Theatre and Dance Department. You can read more about Billy's work by clicking here.

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