Although Essaouira has long held a reputation for being an arty kind of town and has many artists in residence and galleries to prove it, the street art scene here has taken some time to develop. Unlike Asilah – a bohemian port town further north up the Atlantic coast – Essaouira has not made a concerted effort to develop such a scene. Asilah, although about a third of the size of Essaouira, and even sleepier, is known for its annual mural festival. Although there are some murals in Essaouira, these are typically individual initiatives and not part of a larger programme. This is all about to change, as the 6th Marrakech Biennale lands in town with street art in Essaouira!
For the first time, the 2016 Marrakech Biennale art festival will have a street art section and satellite events in Essaouira. The principal offshoot exhibit will be street art in Essaouira, more specifically, “North Africa’s largest ever mural.” I don’t suppose there are many large murals across Morocco’s revolution-torn neighbours, so this initiative is rather setting a record than beating it. Also, as the artwork will be painted on Place Moulay Hassan, one could argue it’s more a “flooral” than a mural, but let’s not split the hairs of our brush before we get started!
The mission of this, the 6th Marrakech Biennale, is to build bridges between cultures through the arts. Like the Biennale host city, Marrakech, Essaouira has a long history inter-cultural unity, as it was once home to significant Jewish, Muslim and European populations.
Italian artist Giacomo Bufarini, aka “RUN,” is a forerunner of the street art scene and is based in London. His Essaouira work, of two figures facing each other across a river, is dozens of metres squared in size and is now visible on Essaouira’s main square.
See more street art in Essaouira here.