Les Villes Invisibles at Les Rencontres Internationales de la Photo de Fès, Morocco

Fantom’s new curatorial project, The Invisible Cities, was carried out on the occasion of Les Rencontres Internationales de la Photo de Fès (Morocco) in collaboration with the Shanghai-based platform ArtHub. 

The festival, presented by the Institut Français du Maroc within the Saison Culturelle France-Maroc 2014, is in its 8th edition and was inaugurated in the city of Fès on November 22nd and 23rd. 

Our exhibition pays homage to Italo Calvino’s book published in 1972, still the richest reference on urban culture and its multiple meanings. At the same time, it follows the path traced by the texts of Calvino’s friend Georges Perec’s: Espèces d’espaces (1974) and Tentative d’épuisement d’un lieu parisien (1975). 

Paraphrasing Calvino, the show has a scattered structure, in which the works stand near each other without linearity or hierarchy; they coexist in a common frame where multiple paths and plural interpretations can be traced. In Les Villes Invisibles, each concept and value is plural. The purpose is not to represent several different urban contexts – although they inevitably appear, more or less recognisable in their uniqueness –  but to evoke the universal entity that is today The City, crossroad of lives and destinies, personal and collective dimensions, historical and visual stratifications. The filter of disappearance – the idea that observing, becoming familiar with a place, coincides with the very same space’s invisibility – is a feature that the experience of space shares with photography. The frame of every image always reveals less than it leaves out.

Organized in different venues around town, the exhibition’s photographs, projections and video-installations give photography new connotations without diluting its potential. In André Prìncipe‘s work, photography brings back to life the ghosts of past people and memories. It gravitates towards individual memories in Li Mu’s images and Thomas Sauvin’s display of archives. It is strengthened by the power of collective memory in the work of Heba Amin and Raed Yassin. Photography acts as a theatre, raising its curtain on Peter SteinhauerFelicity HammondAnthony and Phillip Reed’s scenarios, that give new values to the basic elements that build a city. In Vincenzo Castella and Alessia Cargnelli’s investigations, the force of images pulls together what reality separates, as do the perspectives in the subjective documentaries of Liz HingleyCéline Villegas and André MerianRegula Bochsler’s city portraits are no less than apocalyptic. Representation is thinned down to its purely virtual dimension. With the passing of time, the technologies used to produce numerical images are more and more refined, offering ideally perfect depictions as a result: memories of a future past.  

An international festival not only because of the varied artists’ proveniences, but also in its making: a singular team of Italian, French and Moroccan professionals shared the strains and satisfactions of the production, through all the difficulties and the fascination offered by the special context. During the opening dates, a series of collateral events took place, such as curator-guided tours and a talk by Regula Bochsler on her project The Rendering Eye (renderingeye.net).

Les Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie de Fès
Opening November 22nd at 6 pm 
and November 23rd from 3 pm
Until December 15th 2014
Selected press coverage:
Aujourd'hui Le Maroc
Le Matin Maroc
The View From Fez