Fisher: photographs of Morocco
exhibits of the Morocco series:
Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, 2/05/08 - 3/01/08
Jan/Feb issue 61 photo essay
Spaces: Photographs of Morocco by Rose-Lynn Fisher
Fowler Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, 9/17/06
museum press release
Maghreb Arab Press
from the Same Well
Jewish Cultural Center, Chattanooga, TN, 9/12/04
article with pics
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
conjunction with 2003 theme year "Fostering Dialogue"
Children of Yesterday
Hudson Museum, University of Maine, Orono 7/13/03 - 10/31/03
in the Past
Chicago Cultural Center,
3/27/02 - 7/29/02
Gallery of Contemporary
Art, Umm el-Fahm, Israel, 2000
Jews and Art in a Muslim Land
The Jewish Museum New York,
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
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
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.