Maya Jaggi is a cultural critic and writer based in London. A contributing art critic to the Financial Times, she was a profile writer and book critic for The Guardian from 1999 to 2015. (November 2018)
Fifty years ago, in the Atlas mountain city of Marrakech, a group of leading Moroccan artists hung their dazzlingly experimental abstract paintings in the Jemaa el-Fna, the great market square in the oasis city at the crossroads of Saharan trade routes. The small artists’ group behind it, the Casablanca Art School, whose influences ranged from Bauhaus and New York Hard-edge painting to Islamic Sufism and Berber rugs, has now been rediscovered and is gaining recognition as one of the great Modernist moments of the global South. Their 1969 market-place show has become a touchstone for contemporary artists and curators across the Arab world and the African continent—where new art museums seek ways to connect with a local public.
Official betrayal was epitomized in Britain by the Victory Parade of July 19, 1919. Lutyens, whose Cenotaph in London was the saluting point, may have sought to embrace all the Empire faithful, but Colonial Office officials deemed it “impolitic to bring coloured detachments to participate in the peace processions.” Indians were among the 15,000 soldiers and sailors on parade, but West Indians and Nigerians were not. Today, a wave of work by artists and historians is challenging World War I’s monochrome image, raising profound questions about the selectiveness of remembrance and how those who have been willfully erased can best be restored to memory.