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Rose-Lynn Fisher: photographs of Morocco

solo exhibits of the Morocco series:

Liminal Spaces/ Morocco
Farmani Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, 2/05/08 - 3/01/08

CameraArts Jan/Feb issue 61 photo essay

Liminal Spaces: Photographs of Morocco by Rose-Lynn Fisher
Fowler Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, 9/17/06 - 1/14/07

Fowler museum press release

Maghreb Arab Press French      LA Times      Moment Magazine

Drinking from the Same Well
Jewish Cultural Center, Chattanooga, TN, 9/12/04 - 11/14/04

press release       article       article with pics

Drinking from the Same Well:
Jewish and Muslim Co-existence in Morocco

Museum of Anthropology, Wake Forest University
Winston-Salem, NC 11/5/03 - 2/14/04

In conjunction with 2003 theme year "Fostering Dialogue"

The Children of Yesterday
Hudson Museum, University of Maine, Orono 7/13/03 - 10/31/03

Present in the Past
Chicago Cultural Center, 3/27/02 - 7/29/02

Essential Means  
Gallery of Contemporary Art, Umm el-Fahm, Israel, 2000

(selections featured) Morocco: Jews and Art in a Muslim Land
The Jewish Museum New York, 2000

This series explores the theme of liminality in social and physical spaces, the experience of desert and urban dwelling, and coexistence between Jewish and Muslim cultures in Morocco.I originally went to Morocco to explore Jewish heritage in a Muslim land known for harmonious co-existence with other religions, and I was specifically interested in the history of the Jews in Berber villages at the edge of the Sahara desert. In the way that journeys often begin, I went looking for something and found much more.

I am always interested in the point symbolized by a threshold. If I have a favorite word, it would be “limen” which means threshold, and also refers to the point at which something begins to be perceivable. As a point of entry and departure a threshold marks spatial, temporal and spiritual transition, and inevitably creates a relationship between the conditions, spaces or ideas that meet there.

Throughout Morocco I observed a way of life infused with faith and humor. There was always a sense of the thinnest membrane between the visible and invisible realms, and a familial, dynamic kind of acknowledgment and interaction with the invisible realm. It was in this margin of permeability between the visible and invisible that the most interesting and important moments unfolded.

Process and ritual qualified basic activities such as greeting others, preparing tea or washing hands. Conversations unfolded in a way that gradually spiraled inward to the specifics of discussion or commerce, never in a straight line from a to b. This way of indirectness expanded my appreciation of the diversity of cultural rhythms and ways of communicating.

From a liminal perspective, diverse activities of daily life are related at a deeper level: drawing water up from a well, weaving, kneading dough, making pilgrimage to the shrine of a saint.

In the spiritual tradition of North Africa, saint veneration and pilgrimage is a part of life. Throughout the land are countless shrines to Muslim and Jewish saints, some of whom were venerated by both Jews and Muslims. People often would spend vacations at the shrine of their beloved saint praying for healing, marriage, fertility, and requests that could be met only through miraculous intervention. There are also celebrations that occur annually (hiloula) in which people come to celebrate the great works of a great holy man or woman at their tomb on the anniversary of death.

Elders of the rural villages were the guardians of history. With remarkable specificity they recalled details about the homes, places of worship and cemeteries of their former Jewish neighbors, now abandoned, re-inhabited, in ruins, or revised to another use entirely. Memories recounted friendship and community, and interdependency.

The access to the past through the door of the present provided a rich encounter with many thresholds of time as well as physical spaces in traversing the ancient cities and the modern ones through enclosed passageways and open labyrinths, through intervals of light and shadow.

I was in Morocco at an interesting moment before technology leapfrogged ahead. Concrete construction was still surprising amid ancient ksars. Cell phones and computers were not taken for granted. I came to Morocco from an entirely different world in Los Angeles and found correspondence with my own rhythms, a kind of soul resonance with a country, that so rarely happens, and when it does one recognizes another kind of home.

©2006 Rose-Lynn Fisher