A few weeks ago Othman and I had plans to join up with some friends of ours, another mixed-nationality couple, and have a picnic in a forest close to Casablanca. When I got sick the day beforeand thus had to cancel I became quite frustrated, as I was really looking forward to hanging out with them. Once I got better we started planning again, but due to the daily rain we've been getting here in Casa we had to come up with a different outing. I asked how they'd feel about heading to the new Mohammed VI Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rabat that was inaugurated a few months ago, and they agreed on making a day of it! So yesterday the four of us piled into our car and headed to Morocco's capital city.
We met Gioia and Driss at the first Pages event we went to, at which she told the story of how she ended up here, and then he played music with his fantastic band. (They're mentioned in my first post about Pages here!)
|A very cool picture of Gioia from the next Pages event- when I spoke!|
Since then we've kept in touch and seen each other a couple times, and really enjoy spending time together. With our busy lives it's difficult to make time to help friendships grow, but it really is so important, and is something I've been pushing Othman and me to do recently. Gone are those university days when you become friends with people easily and almost by default, spending most of your time with them. As busy, working adults we have to make time and reasons to get together, and while it's a bit of a pain it's so rewarding!
Both Gioia and Driss and Othman and I had been talking separately of going to the museum for a while, as its opening caused quite a sensation and it has gotten lots of media attention. Museums are few and far between in Morocco and it's great to see more being built! It made a lot of sense, however, to go as a foursome because of our different approaches to art. Driss and Othman are Moroccan and didn't grow up in "museum cultures" as Gioia, an Italian, and I did. As a result she and I enjoyed discussing what we saw together as the boys had fun giggling at the pieces they didn't like as they lagged behind. The four of us had some very interesting conversations within the galleries talking about different ways of considering art and delving into why they had a harder time with some of it than we did. The talk ended up being educational for us all as we learned the others' perspectives!
While the new museum is supposed to be focused on modern art, its new exhibition (which was created in collaboration with the Louvre and will travel there afterwards) actually displays medieval Moroccan art from the 8th to 13th centuries. This is an interesting choice and is a testament to how museums are needed here—there really isn't another establishment able to house such an exhibit. I thought the juxtaposition was apt, however. Starting with the traditional and classic works of architectural, literary and functional art downstairs and then moving to the 20th century upstairs for the second half of our visit gave us perspective on how the second grew from the first. Tradition is of paramount importance in Moroccan society and while modern and contemporary artists are almost by definition moving away from tradition, in many ways its motifs and themes creep into their works. It was also good because the boys were more interested in that first part while Gioia and I appreciated the contemporary exhibit much more, which meant that there was a little something for everyone. We all left impressed with the museum's quality, despite a few missing labels and many explanations in the first exhibit being only in Arabic—but hey we're still in Morocco after all. I thought its size and scope were perfect: meaty enough not to be disappointing but very managable at the same time. And the entrance price means it's accessible to many!
|One of the modern pieces we all loved.|
Having arrived in Rabat quite a bit later than we meant to, for various reasons, we stayed until the museum closed and may well have been the last visitors to leave. We then headed to the coast not far away to enjoy the sunset and have some dinner. I whipped out my camera and went to town taking pictures. I’m not often in Rabat, and enjoyed seeing different views from what’s typical in Casablanca. We admired the sea and the architecture and found some cute snails to photograph too!
Not only am I not often in Rabat, but I’m also not often ready with my camera during twilight and at night, so I made the most of the opportunity to play with the settings and experiment a bit. I took advantage of the light of the setting sun behind the clouds and later on got some fabulous night shots.
As we headed down towards a bar-restaurant right on the beach I turned around and snapped this funny photo.
Inside we ordered a bunch of appetizers to share, as we talked and laughed all together. We took a few nice pictures as we waited, then tucked into some delicious seafood.
After eating we walked back up to the car and they laughed as I stopped every 20 meters or so to take pictures, but in the end I don’t think anyone minded too much, and I was happy with the results!
The drive down wasn’t short in time but felt so, as Driss and Othman laughed and joked in the front Gioia and I shared we’re-married-to-Moroccans stories in the back. Othman and I dropped them off at home with promises to get together for dinner soon, especially as we realized we all have the same tastes in dining out, down to a favorite restaurant in common! Thanks for a lovely day, Gioia and Driss, and see you both soon!