States of the Arts


Elatérium I

by Safâa Erruas
Mixed media

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We see a slashed piece of paper, a gash running down the middle of the sheet. The clean, white space, once undisturbed, is now broken by the void beyond. We may interpret this vertical cut as an act of violence, imagining the razor blade that ripped the material in half. Peering closer, speckled holes appear to us, surrounding the slit. Wire has been threaded through, and in a few instances has been tied to bridge the central gap. Glassy orbs, perhaps the translucent heads of pins, provide further embellishment. These additions appear to be an attempt to mask any damage done, albeit in the knowledge that such harm is irreversible.

Words by John Wadsworth


directed by Laïla Marrakchi
Feature film

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A scene of youthful unruliness develops as dance music throbs in the background. Children on the street peddle cigarettes and hurl crude comments at passing women. A couple resist an assertive police officer. A girl vomits into a toilet. A fight breaks out. Among this rabble is Rita, whose decisions are met with dismay and disapproval from her parents. She smokes marijuana, resists fasting during Ramadan, and falls in love with a Jewish man. As a young, free spirit following her own instincts, Rita becomes forced to wrestle with the restrictions of tradition, convention, and expectation.

Words by Hugh Maloney

The Wolves

by Abdellatif Laâbi

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The wolves of Abdellatif Laâbi’s poem are ferocious, fearsome creatures, but they bear neither fanged teeth nor claws. They walk on two legs, lounge about ‘nice and snug in their country homes’, feast on fresh game, and enjoy the power that they hold over their less fortunate neighbours. They have no need to wear sheep’s clothing to get their way; political manipulation does the trick with far less hassle. Days are spent ‘counting bodies’, while nights see attentions turn to spouses. There is no respite from their regime. The wolves’ howls, of pain caused and pleasure gained, resound for ‘hours on end’.

Words by John Wadsworth

The Truth Forever

by The Master Musicians of Jajouka

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An ensemble of rhaitas, oboe-like reed instruments, is accompanied by a gradually accelerating drum pattern. They all play the same melody, but are deliberately out of phase with each other, causing cross-rhythms and unexpected accents to leap out of the wall of sound. The effect is one of irresistible chaos, as if imitating the roar of a boulder careening down a mountainside. The village of Jajouka is an ancient centre for Sufi trance music, an art form that the Master Musicians continue. The unstoppable energy of their performances is intended as a route to spiritual ecstasy, a means of abandoning selfhood and surrendering to the noise.

Words by Lewis Coenen-Rowe

More to discover

Elatérium I: Visit Safâa Erruas’s website here. Clelia Coussonnet has interviewed the artist for Another Africa.

Marock: Watch the trailer here.

The Wolves: Read the poem here, and listen to it being performed by the poet here.

The Truth Forever: Listen to the track here.

Question of the day

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