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The exhibition and event program marks the 10th anniversary of L'appartement 22 in Rabat, Morocco.By Pat Binder & Gerhard Haupt | Nov 2012
The exhibition and program JF_JH Libertés marks the 10th anniversary of L'appartement 22 in Rabat, Morocco. Established in October 2002 by Abdellah Karroum, L'appartement 22 is an independent art space located in the heart of Rabat in a building from the 1920s facing the Moroccan Parliament.
"Originally, the apartment was only meant as my own private home," confessed Abdellah Karroum in an interview with Nafas in 2005. "After I finished studying in Europe, I planned to work at universities and art schools in Morocco. I had a clear idea of how cultural activities in the context of this country could be developed. I came to Rabat to assist in setting up an art department at a Moroccan university, to work with artists, and to spend the rest of my time writing books. In the end, I decided to use my own apartment as an alternative to the lack of interest shown by institutional spaces in the kinds of artistic forms that really interested me. With that, L'appartement 22 became a space of freedom for both the artists and myself." 
Freedom of thought, of believes, of convictions… it is no coincidence that the exhibition marking 10 years of activities has the title JF_JH Libertés. It follows and rounds-up the series of projects which started with the very first show at the space JF_JH individualités (Young Women_Young Men, Individualities), with works by Safaa Erruas and Younès Rahmoun. The approach behind these collaborations addressing the complexity of the relationship between men and women in Morocco was continued in other exhibitions: JF_JH Cohabitation, JF_JH Agreements, and JF_JH Complicity.
JF_JH Libertés involves several of the artists, curators, and art professionals who have made possible the existence of the space during these years. Questioning and experimenting on the idea of freedom, in view of the society's development in an era of relative distances and homelands, it features works by Mustapha Akrim, Ismail Bahri, Touda Bouanani, Gabriella Ciancimino, Badr El Hammami, Fadma Kaddouri, Bernard Plossu, Catherine Poncin, Karim Rafi, and Younès Rahmoun, offering also a program of meetings and discussions, some of them broadcasted through radioapartment22, a web radio station that complements L'appartement 22's activities since 2007.
From the beginning, L'appartement 22 was conceived as "a kind of headquarters or editing room for developing an art project that surpasses the physical space of an exhibition."  Since 2007, the projects in Rabat and in other countries are realized by a group of associated curators, formalized under the name of Curatorial Delegation in 2011 to "translate and propose more intuitive and methodical forms of engagement with available or invented spaces, suggesting ways to establish meaningful dialogue, research, production, and communication." 
L'appartement took part in the event No Soul for Sale, a festival dedicated to independent art centers from around the world, in 2009 in New York, and 2010 in London. In 2011, it was invited to the Encuentros de Medellin in Colombia, and in the same year, Abdellah Karroum brought together artists from L'appartement 22 as well as the Curatorial Delegation to participate in the 54th Venice Biennale with the research and action-based project "Working for Change: Project for the Moroccan Pavilion" on Giudecca Island. 
On November 8th, 2012, under the artistic direction of Abdellah Karroum, a constellation of artists and curators, several of them associated to L'appartement 22, launched the 2nd Biennale Bénin with the overall theme of "Inventing the World: The Artist as Citizen."
At the headquarters in Rabat, as part of JF_JH Libertés, an inscription on the wall sums up a maxim of L'appartement 22's activities of the last decade, which also reads as a demand (more than a hope) for the country's future: Freedom of thought, opinion and expression are guaranteed in all their forms. It is a work by Mustapha Akrim, who has carved the article Nr 25 of Morocco's new constitution directly on the wall facing the Parliament.
Pat Binder & Gerhard Haupt
Publishers of Universes in Universe - Worlds of Art. Based in Berlin, Germany.
24 August - 31 December 2012
Badr El Hammami