'How we are in the world. How we care in the world. Our moves, our gestures, our flow.' Henrike Gootjes
Artist in residency Marrakesh
As part of my Master, I did an artist in residency in the Medina of Marrakesh (Maroc). I was placed to work at the Local Hamam.
An intense and interesting experience which led me to think about bodies and the Medina. The Medina as a body and wrote the text 'my body in the Medina'.
To digest and materialize the experience of the Hamam and the Medina I made watery watercolours and embroided on textiles which are used in the Hamam. I thought about how our body are vessels and where we guard the boundaries of our bodies and where we transgress or cross borders of the body. And how different the same body moves in different cultural contexts.
I exhibited the watery watercolors and collaborated with a local performer, Amine, who did a performance during the open Studio.
My body in the Medina
The first day in the Medina of Marrakesh was an unpleasant one. A man had followed
my all the way from the chicken shop to the door of the Queens collective, where we
stayed. He wanted me to pay him and when I refused he became more and more
aggressive, pulling my arm, pushing me against the walls of the narrow alleyways in
the Medina. I was relieved to find our house in the orange labyrinth of alleys and get
I had to do some learning here. I was clearly out of my world in the North African
inner-city. My white women’s body was doing something here. I wanted to become
aware of this, using humor and playfulness to test out borders and boundaries in
these different circumstances.
I was placed to work with the woman at the local Hamam. We had no common
language to speak but the language of the body. This woman was kind, strong, full of
humor and directive.
I followed her.
When she gestured me to sit down I did, to turn to my belly, to rinse,
to stand up. I trusted her. I felt unknowing. I realized that this is also many times the
position of the student. As my role as a teacher it made me empathize with and
appreciate my students. It takes courage, vulnerability and patients to be a student.
Hot, wet and steamy
My body with the woman’s body of the Medina. Scarfs, Hijabs and covering left at the
changing rooms. Hot, wet and steamy. Rinsing, cleaning, pouring, scrubbing, washing.
Over and over again. Buckets of water. Mixing the hot and the cool.
Back from this experience I wanted to paint with lots of water, the buckets, the
arches the quiet busyness.
The domed roofs.
Vessels to hold.
Hold space. Hold energy. Containing.
Our bodies as powerful tool. How we are in the world. How we care in the world. Our
moves, our gestures, our flow. The way we touch. Where we place our weight. How
we respond to spontaneity, imagination and creativity. We are renewing all the time.
How do we direct and utilize this power?