“What are memory-traces? They are spaces overlooked by History and by Memory, because they are witness of dominated histories and crushed memories and aim to preserve them.“*
The narratives that relate political, cultural and social events inherent in the Sahara of Southern Morocco are orally transmitted in a poetic language by the local population. However, they disappeared from official discourses because of their transcription in the form of a document. Made invisible or voluntarily denied by History, this immaterial knowledge, these memory-traces, as Chamoiseau would have called them, nevertheless constitute an essential historiographical material of this geographical space appearing as empty to the eyes of others.
By following these narratives that take him to the regions of Boujdour, Laâyoune, Tarfaya, Guelmim, Es-Semara and Tan-Tan, Abdessamad El Montassir revives these latent archives and subverts the established chronicles to suggest an alternative, dissonant, not fixed but rather renewed and endogenous approach to the territory. The Hassani poems recited by the erudite persons he meets direct him to these other places of enunciation that give history its full meaning.
Since 2016, the artist painstakingly investigates these imperceptible spaces and, through a photographic series composed of symbolic places and endemic plants, unfolds a singular atlas traced in accordance with the routes of anonymous women and men.
Thus, Al Amakine, une cartographie des vies invisibles** opens a new interstice that highlights the micro-stories of the Sahara in southern Morocco, and fills the silence and void maintained by the standardized discourses. The exhibition therefore invites the viewers to listen to these silent voices, and to decenter their gaze and think otherwise of these geographical spaces located outside the maps and official histories.
“I sing memories against the Memory. I sing the memory-traces against the Monument.“*
Gabrielle Camuset et Alice Orefice,
curators of the exhibition
* Patrick Chamoiseau in Guyane, Traces-mémoires du bagne, 1994
** Al Amakine means the places in Arabic. Its title is taken from an eponymous text by Françoise Vergès.