Framed in the North by the Mediterranean Sea and in the West by the Atlantic, shielded East and South by the rugged Atlas Mountains and wrapped in the sandy dunes of the Sahara, Morocco has long since captured the imagination and fancy of many. In their inaugural summer garden party event and exhibition, Medina 50, island6 and the Liu Dao Art Collective hope to conjure the imagination and mystery of the great Al Maghrib (المغرب) through a multi-media show celebrating the spirituality, enigma and intrigue of the Land of the Setting Sun.
Located in the verdant setting of our newest edition to the m50 community, the island6 Shanghai Garden proves to be an oasis amidst the bustling and hectic streets that lie just beyond its walls. Tumbling quarter tones and intoxicating aromas beckon you inside where you will be transported to an exotic realm of mysticism whilst traveling back to a slower time of aromatic mint tea in cool yards and sun-drenched bazaars overflowing with handmade jewelry and colorful tagines. As you saunter over to the Café de Paris or the legendary Tingus in the historic Petit Socco imagine yourself with likes of Bourroughs, Bowles, Gysin and Kerouac joined sporadically in their idyll with Ginsberg, the Stones, Jean Genet and Corso. Indulging in the fragrant silky smoke of Sheesha (شيشة) in our modern Riad (رياض) a refuge is offered from the hum drum of daily life amidst the hectic souks (سوق) and old town markets of Shanghai, our modern medina (مدينة). Imagine the sounds of the city slowly dissipating with the calls of the muezzins 'Allah Akbar' (اللهأكبر) echoing off stuccoed walls while the chants of vendors selling their wares melt into the Rai (راي) singers tale escaping the open window in the winding maze-like alley.
Liu Dao's sparkling LED's mingle side by side with stained glass lanterns and tinctured tin tiles while aromatic smoke lingers from towering hookahs in our Alhambra meets modernist affair. A woman dances the raqs sharqi (رقصشرقي), a dance rooted in Arab, Berber and African culture characterized by sensual hip movements and tantalizing undulations. Entirely fashioned from neon diodes, she gracefully catches our attention with her enticing arabesque and illuminated costume. She moves to the sound of the guembri (كمبري), a stringed instrument from the northern Berber tribes of Ourika made from hollowed sandalwood and henna stained goat skin. The sound is distinctly oriental, its standardized tonal system or maqamat (مقام) merging between musical and emotional describing the aural Arabic concept of taarab (طرب). In this light activated sound piece, the viewer acts to improvise his own composition, using a flashlight like a composers baton complimenting the Moroccan notion of musical spontaneity taqasim (قْسِيم). Just as unpredictable, the flicker from RGB displays casts a kinetic trance-like atmosphere over our fashioned bazaar, merely a pictured mirage of the dance between sun and shadow over our imagined sub-Saharan bash. Elegantly mixing Middle Eastern magic and Berber tradition with the signature Liu Dao P.R.C flair, Medina 50 celebrates the vibrancy of a culture with a rich and mysterious heritage.
The exhibition opens with a Moroccan themed evening set in the heart of the m50 Industrial Arts complex on the 8th of August, 2013 at 7pm. Evocative of the dreamy, thin-washed paintings of Matisse and Hamri combined with the drug-fueled scribbling of Burroughs, island6 creates a surreal crossroads where Northern Africa meets Europe, the Mediterranean meets the East China Sea and hedonism and history seems to intermix.