Can an outsider engage in a local culture without speaking its language, or having sufficient knowledge of its traditions? "Free Market", a performance that took place in Marrakech, Morocco, became an attempt to answer these questions.
From the beginning, my lack of shared language (Darija, Arabic, or French) informed the decision to create objects for a temporary installation. Living at an artist residency situated in a luxury hotel highlighted the currents of some major economies: tourism and leisure. This knowledge guided the studio work, and research while traveling in the Atlas Mountains, on the coast from Casablanca to Tanger and Seuta, to the ruins near Quarzazat. Quotidian things like bread, tapestry, crates, and oranges, were combined with skis, helmet, or modernist chair, creating sculpture, which tried to locate tangible connections between authentic and foreign dimensions of Morocco.
Using local methods of transportation, I took a 3-hour donkey ride to deliver the work to Jamaa El Fna, a historically communal square. The "Free Market" was installed amongst other local attractions of fortune-tellers, snake charmers, monkey peddlers, and food stalls; it was fully accessible to public for an hour and a half. During this time, local people observed, discussed, and joked in the presence of these familiar and simultaneously foreign objects. In a way, the experience reminded a 'first encounter' for both, the viewers, and myself; "Free Market" was temporarily accepted as local curiosity. After the show was over, one of the men asked: "Are you going to do this again tomorrow?"