FEZ, MOROCCO – The second annual Fez International Artist Gathering is a festival that unites
cultures from around the globe through art. This year, it will be held between Jan. 12-15 in the old
medina of Fez.
Creative thinkers from around the world will come together to explore this year’s central theme,
“Art in the Time of Crisis.” Admission is free and all are welcome.
The event was created and organized by Fez local Omar Chennafi, a photographer and artist.
The 2017 Gathering will host five new art exhibitions, selected by German curators Pascual Jordan
and Evi Blink, which blend together photography, installations and paintings. Attendees will enjoy
artwork that covers a broad range of topics, such as the refugee crisis, war, Islamic extremism and a
lack of global education. Exhibited artists will come from all corners of the world, and include up-
and-coming figures like Mohamed Charkaoui (Fez, Morocco) and Michael Grieve (Berlin,
“We want to give these major issues a different perspective and open the dialogue,” Chennafi said.
At a time when images of war and violence proliferate international media, Chennafi believes that
the festival is more important than ever before. He hopes that the showcased works will challenge
stigmas surrounding Islam, while also examining the world’s ongoing conflicts through a unique,
“Artists can talk to everyone because art is the opposite of dogma,” he said. “For me, religion
without culture is extremism and culture without art is dogma.”
The festival will showcase Fez as an ancient city with a modern outlook, and attendees will have
the opportunity to connect with the city’s impressive artistic community.
“Muslim culture celebrates art, but it isn’t given the right exposure,” Chennafi said. “We are trying
to open up this conversation globally to show the world there is a place for art in Islam.”
An impressive 22 new artists will be showcased during the event, including: curator Neil van der
Linden (Amsterdam); artist and teacher Mohamed Charkaoui (Fez, Morocco); photographer
Michael Grieve (Berlin, Germany); visual artist Madiha Sebbani (Rabat, Morocco); and Courtney
Ewrin (USA), Senior Program Specialist at the Mohamedian League of Religious Scholars.
Chennafi says that each year, the festival invites new artists to incorporate their fresh perspectives.
A foundational part of the Gathering is its emphasis on dialogue. Attendees will not only
appreciate art, but also discuss its impact in four different panels, whose topics range from
photograph to art and extremism.
After the event is over, participants are invited to get involved and share their feedback. The entire
festival will be filmed, documented and subsequently shared on social media. Coverage will also
include one-on-one interviews with artists and participants.
“We want to archive everything that happens, so that teachers and anyone who has an interest in
cultural research can have access,” Chennafi said.
The Fez International Artist Gathering is held in partnership with: The Goethe Institut, Embassy of
the Federal Republic of Germany, Institut Français Fez, Conseil Régional du Tourisme, American
Language Centre of Fez ., Association Fes Saiss, Cafe Clock, In
MACECE, Plan-it Morocco, Cercle des Souffles, L’Association Marocaine des Professeurs
d’Allemand i(AMPA), Rumi Institute Near East University, PILOTENKUECHE, Morocco World
News and The View From Fez.