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Chagall in Essaouira
The painter Marc Chagall’s oft-repeated motif of the jewish fiddler 🎻 is present. Essaouira, a coastal city, was well-known for its Jewish population after the Spanish Intifada in 1492. The Jews departed Morocco for Israel after the latter’s creation.
In this image we observe:
- the angular tower (built by the Portuguese at Essaouira) – that symbolises the emotionally distant (earth) mother as the primary caregiver – interacting with
- the fire, that represents the fiery temperament of the Masculine, as the dominant caregiver.
- The nourishing milky sea, with its beachball nipple, likewise symbolises the Feminine, but this time this version of the Feminine is more clearly associated with the “nowness” of the young woman sailing upon it.
- The peacock flying in the masculine sign of air, represents the erotic yearning of the visual protagonist, that is to say, the woman; towards the masculine Other.
- Or as a guide, is the peacock also a teacher?
- Or Icarus, who in going too close to the sun, was ultimately destroyed by that ball of fire?
- Together, water and air form the psycho-construct upon which the girl seeks psychic equanimity, as she sails towards her fate. Clearly though, the journey is not without risk.
- The peacock is also the phoenix, overcoming the travails of life in the flight towards spiritual ascension, with beauty as the path. 🦚
The violin 🎻 music is the language of the soul.
Chirico in Ouarzazate
Giorgio di Chirico was fascinated by the metaphysics of architecture 🏛and he was able to evoke feelings of loneliness, abandonment, menace and estrangement in his images of it. Not only architecture of ancient cities, but also shadows 👤, mannequins, towers 🗼trains 🚂 and distorted perspective, feature prominently in his work.
He was also fascinated by the unseen auguries under the appearance of objects 🔮 and was heavily influenced by Nietzsche and Schopenhauer.
Interestingly perhaps, he was also friends with the surrealist poet Guillaume Apollinaire.
In Ouarzazate, walking through any one of numerous abandoned film sets, one also is pervaded by a haunting sense of forlornness and emptiness as though walking through a Chirico painting, especially on an overcast day when few others are around.
Miró in Casablanca
In some of Joan Miro’s abstract works he depicts an apparently festive ambience with his crowds of bright shapes. And yet the melancholic feeling that “dopo la festa 🎉 viene la tristezza 😞 ”, is evoked. 🤔💭
In Casablanca we see the accoutrements of the wealth 💰of a rising middle class in Morocco. One example is the playground in which this merry-go-round 🎠 is to be found. At the same time there is loss of culture and tradition. Supermarkets 🏪 are replacing souks. Takeaway food fits more into the new lifestyle of Casablanca than Moroccan 🥘slow food. This leads to something of a melancholic carnival atmosphere in Casablanca, reminiscent of the warning of Miro of existential estrangement from Self in the embrace of “progress”. 🫂
Dali in the desert
In the desert the Acacia tree and desert man are one and the same – hardened by environmental conditions and with a shared history too. It is the environment that caused the Acacia to evolve with spikey leaves, the surface area of which allows minimum moisture loss. These words could equally describe the desert man’s propensity to never reveal all, ever.
When you come to the desert you may be shocked at the difference in the quantity of water you drink compared with the locals. 🥃🥃🫖
In the foreground – and the central preoccupation of the image – is the fallen child of the Acacia. In the photo 📸from which we took inspiration💡, there was also a pile of dirt nearby and it eerily reminded us of a grave being dug. There was real fear of death and we know infant mortality is unacceptably high in these poorer countries. 🌍
Underneath the shade of the Acacia and seemingly merged with this ancient tree, is a desert man with an equally ancient DNA, on a mobile device, anxiously calling in aid modernity to alleviate the suffering of his sick child.
Curiously « la mer(e) » in the distance is, in the desert, a mirage. Men are drawn to their annihilation in their yearning for reintegration with her.
The desert scarecrows of the Ait Kherbach tribe, constructed by the mothers, shudder and sway in the breeze as though human, but they are bereft of either heart or soul. Instead, nestled inside you might see a snake curled up and ready to shed its skin with each changing season.
Intended by the local shepherds to ward off predators, the shocking reality is that the Ait Kherbach scarecrows are the predators.
Morocco’s female artists assert that depictions of exotic women in nineteenth century Orientalist Art, are a depiction of the Moroccan woman filtered by the white, male, european gaze. Perhaps this image immediately above should be called “Rightbackatcha” because this depicts how the white, western woman is depicted by the Moroccan desert man. She is a shoe (recalling the vagina imagery of Cindarella’s slipper), she is bags of money and you will see these hang as though lynched, from the Acacia tree, which in a way is an accurate depiction of what occurs, emotionally. She is the oven and she is the bike used to get ahead. The disorder that leads to such a transactional and objectifying attitude comes from early childhood neglect by nomad mothers not coping with village life and not receiving adequate support from the Moroccan State in following the call by the State, to have their children educated. The result is soul-death of their children and the creation of reptilian predators. It is so tragic I can hardly bear to write about it. This constellation of stars was present over Merzouga on the birthday of one such victim/predator. The peacock is the Renaissance. It also symbolises the phoenix and the hope of spiritual ascension. It is Eros, the life instinct, the creative instinct. This motif of transcendence and hope is turned away from the figure of Thanatos, the death drive on the left, because there is no hope for him.
Check back from time to time for more images and commentary.