Marrakech Series | Musical Chairs |
An impromptu tour of the Kasbah leads me back to questions around the nature of North African street socials. It has been a thing and continues to be a thing since the region’s pre and post colonial liberation periods. Men drag their wooden stools and ideas from corner to corner in pursuit of a conversation. They speak of politics and daily struggles, family woes and causes for celebration. Depending on cultural and religious etiquette, women do the same in the context of the home, or still, blur this line when they chat over balcony partitions and outdoor terraces, throwing hand signs over washing lines. I greet the men in my photograph with a smile, and capture the moment one moves his resting spot from one side to the other as a way of keeping the conversation both flowing and private. I liken it to musical chairs because as all game participants, each of them do a dance in acknowledgment of each other, and some stay while others leave. The process strikes me as one that is equivalent to any regular social setting around food, coffee, Eastern and Western shindigs or intellectual debates but with a sense of reclaiming the streets. In the end people voice each of their opinions and a notion of relation and community is enabled. Being born and having lived in North Africa, this was a regular sighting for me but I never understood, and even at times snubbed, what the purpose was until I really thought about it in regards to the overpowering age of the internet and virtual reality. A time where most people spend their evenings and countless hours staring at a computer in their free time has dawned. Yet, we are still very much social beings with a need to see, hear and connect with people on a physical level. It never struck me how beautiful a resting object could appear and why it guaranteed a social dance. Not at least until I froze this moment and arrived at the hope that these stools never go out of demand.