Applications Call. Artist in Residency Sidi Ali, Morocco. Deadline: December 10, 2012

Artist in Residency (AiR) Sidi Ali, Morocco

23rd – 30th January 2013.

Artist’s Call out

Culture Vultures announces an artists’ call-out for an 8-day artist residence program around the Sidi Ali Ben Hamdouch pilgrimage festival (Moussem), pulling participants deep into a fusion of Islam and Moroccan folklore.  With the collaboration of the French Insitute in Fez, the research and work fed by this rich experience will be showcased in a presentation in July of 2013.

The itinerary summary  – Organized daytime and nighttime visits to the Moussem of Sidi Ali Ben Hamdouch interwoven with a program of talks, presentations, in-house concerts and feedback dinners with locals involved in the moussem and academics specializing in the field of Islamic and folkloric Morocco.  The program also incorporates cultural activities such as a hammam visit and local trips to the surrounding area rich in heritage and fertile landscape.

The artists – the program is for visual artists, performers, writers, musicians, and multi-media artists interested in the rich culture, ceremonial festival and spiritual pilgrimage who want to gain insight, draw inspiration and obtain material to feed their work and artistic practice. The definition of artist is broad.

Moussem Sidi Ali Ben Hamdouch – Every year on the anniversary of the prophet Mohammed’s  birth, (‘Eid al-Mawlid) many Moroccans take part in pilgrimages to sacred places, saintly tombs, shrines and grottos, and places frequented by ‘junuun,’ those mystical beings from the Qur’an who hold a special place in Moroccan folklore and popular culture.

Thousands of pilgrims descend upon Sidi Ali to  commemorate Sidi Ali Ben Hamdouch and to delve into the world of the supernatural, the trance, the aura of the junuun, to experience the ritual bath at the spring of Aïsha Ben Hamdoucha and incantations that bring spirits and humans together in remembrance of God.

During the week of the pilgrimage, tents and stalls line the streets of the small town. The smells of tea and grilled meat mix with those of live sheep awaiting slaughter and the sweet incense used in ritual offerings. Music fills the foggy mountain air as impromptu street performances take place in every corner.

Musicians playing anything from the Ahidous native to the Atlas Mountains to Sufi music in the Hamadsha or Gnawa traditions descend upon Sidi Ali, set up camp in a ground floor garage or room in an apartment for the week to perform ceremonial ‘Lillas’

 Spectators are slowly brought into the ritual – dancing, swaying and being offered breaths of incense until some fall into a trance. Participation with the mystic during the pilgrimage of Sidi Ali ben Hamdouch is very much like all mystic experiences: it requires initiation, belief and surrender.  The sweet smell of incense and the rhythmic clapping of metal castanets and chanting of the Gnawi form an experience that flows between the spiritual and the sensory – between mere curiosity and more esoteric meanderings. Hardly advertised, the pilgrimage of Sidi Ali Ben Hamdouch is known by most Moroccans. This is an opportunity to be transported deep into Moroccan tradition. This text is taken from an article written on last years Mousseem by Joe Lukawski for more  go to –


Culture Vultures is a Moroccan cultural company that was set up in 2009 to cover arts and cross-cultural activities. Culture Vultures has worked with local, national and international artists from a broad portfolio of media assisting and facilitating the realizations and presentations of their work in the Fez region.


Jess Stephens the facilitator;  a practicing artist and cultural coordinator originally from the UK. Jess has lived and worked in Morocco for the past five years. Her interest in a cross-cultural and grass roots approach to Morocco is what feeds and benefits her facilitation and the design of this AiR Sidi Ali project. Inspired and fired by her visit to last year’s Sidi Ali Ben Hamdouch Moussem, Jess realized the potential and broad range of matter that can feed an artist’s practice.


The accommodation – Dar Zerhoune guesthouse is a traditional Moroccan house restored by a woman from New Zealand with a love of Morocco. Dar Zerhoune has western toilets, comfortable beds and wifi, yet keeps a time-honored character reminiscent of the ancient Moroccan town of Moulay Idriss.


 Sidi Ali Ben Hamdouch – Is a small town situated some 10 kilometers from *Moulay Idriss, and 15km from Meknes, the nearest city. The capital city of the region, the ancient imperial city of Fez is located 70 kilometers from Sidi Ali. The Fez region is set in the North central area of Morocco, north Africa.

Moulay Idriss, the project’s home base, is a holy and important historical town. Moulay Idriss offers calm and quiet residence, in comparison to the high energy of Sidi Ali during the week of the Moussem.

Morocco has a deeply traditional culture with a population of 99 percent Muslim, made up of both Berber and Arab ethnicities. Before the establishment of Israel, Morocco also hosted a large Jewish population, and has also been influenced by past colonizing cultures such as Spanish and French.

Itinerary breakdown

Day 1 – Meet in Fez – Inaugural dinner with orientation *

Day 2 – Transfer to Moulay Idriss. Check in. Visit Sidi Ali (day) Gnaoua concert and presentation.

Day 3 –Tour of Moulay Idriss . Visit Moussem (night).

Day 4 –  Lunch with feedback. Visit Moussem (day)

Day 5 – Lunch with lecture. Sufism in Islam. Visit Moussem (night)

Day 6 – Visit Moussem (day) – herbalist and clairvoyant talk

Day 7 – Hammam. Visit to Moussem (night )

Day 8 – Breakfast feedback session. Return to Fez.

*Participants are required to arrange their own accommodation in Fez.


Cost –  825 euros

 What you get for your money –

  • The rich and informative Artist in Residence program described above.
  • A exhibition or performance showcase, facilitated by Culture Vultures supported by the French Institute in Fez 6 months after the Moussem.
  • Transport to and from Fez and inaugural dinner.
  • Transport from Fez to Moulay Idriss
  • Accommodation for 6 nights in Dar Zerhoune in Moulay Idriss
  • Breakfast and one delicious and typically Moroccan main meal per day
  • Much inspiration, exploration and amazement

How to apply – e-mail 3 – 5 examples of your work ( images –  jpeg, text -word.doc, video – mp4) and a short text ( 400 words) on how you anticipate AiR Sidi Ali will nourish and inspire your work.

Submission deadline –  December the 10th 2012.  Participants will be announced on the 15th of December 2012

Note – Full residency places are limited to 5 people. Places are confirmed after affirmation from the organization and a deposit is paid.

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