M’Hamid is situated at the edge of The Sahara in Morocco, it is an ancient Oasis civilization, and an agrarian society where its people lived according to the principles of self-sufficiency for hundreds of years.
But due to reduced or even absent winter rains since the 1970s, agriculture provided less income and was abandoned almost entirely, adding to the steadily declining population caused by the growth of the desert. This growth has been a threat to the settlement since the 2nd half of the 20th century and was further highlighted by the area’s proximity to a strategically important border shared with Algeria. This is why until the end of the 1980s, a special permit was required to enter the area, and even today, many soldiers are still stationed around M’hamid. In spite of this, it continues to be a stop for travelling nomads and desert caravans, retaining aspects of its ancient characteristics and still deeply conservative in its culture. Yet it has also become a global tourist hub, and the starting point for camping and safaris into the desert – an increasingly booming industry and source of income in the area. This puts M’Hamid at the crossroads of civilisation change, bringing together need for socio cultural change with the need to preserve the tangible and ephemeral heritage of the space.
_inventory residency at M’Hamid aims to be a fleeting laboratory of curators and artists working with interactions between communities, the environment and contemporary culture, sensitive to the situation at M’hamid, a breeding ground for a process of re-appropriation. We will initiate a wider dialogue around the impact of social and artistic practices as antidotes to a global standardisation, through different processes such as self-appropriation. The curatorial team will be working with artists, collectives and members of the community in promoting art and cultural thought through performances, events and discussions, allowing the global community to reflect upon issues of accessibility, identities and values.