La Source du Lion: Art and Environment

The art association in Casablanca, Morocco, and its environmental protection project for the public park l'Hermitage.
Feb 2005

The Lion Source Society was established in 1995 in Casablanca. The artist Hassan Darsi came up with the concept, together with the participation of fellow artists Mohamed Fariji and Rachid L’Moudenne. The Lion Source Society seeks to explore new modes of artistic expression on an individual and collective basis, to revitalize the contemporary art scene in Morocco, and to reach out to a new and more diverse audience. From the beginning, there was the intention to open a resource place in Casablanca, which would allow young artists to work, to meet other artists with different creative horizons, to initiate common projects, to reflect upon them, and to position themselves within an artistic and cultural context that is often reticent towards new ideas.

Since 2002, the main activities of the group have been devoted to an environmental protection project. The idea for "The Model Project" stemmed from both a place and a determination. The place is the Hermitage Park in Casablanca, considered to be one of the oldest, and once one of the most beautiful city gardens in Morocco. Its history goes back to the early 1920s.

As for the determination, it was the Lion Source's members' resolution in view of the catastrophic neglect that had befallen the park, and generally all places of public gathering in the cities of Morocco, to deal artistically with this situation and draw public attention to it.

The Model Project

Chronology:

February 2002
Members of The Lion Source visit the Hermitage Park and decide to conceive an artistic project based on the construction of a model, to sensitize public opinion about the disastrous situation of the park.

July 2002
Formal opening and introduction of the Model Project at the Villa des Arts in Casablanca. At this opening, the Lion Source presents all the technical studies pertaining to their project, as well as a collection of photographs of the park documenting the state of the trees, the plants, and everything else of relevance to the garden, including the refuse. The Lion Source writes an open letter to the people of the city.

September 2002
Beginning of the workshops. The general public is invited to participate in the construction of the Model, regardless of them being artists or not.

April 2003
The opening for the Model Project's exhibition at the Villa des Arts. The Lion Source Society organizes the first Hermitage international meeting for artists, called "Passerelle Artistique" (Artistic Bridge), with guests from Holland, France, Spain and Belgium, who share similar concerns about their society and environment. In addition, open talks were arranged between the audience and invited dignitaries from Casablanca. Two weeks later, refuse from half of the park was removed in about 2000 truck runs.

October 2003
With a request from the mayor of the city, the Lion Source Society decides to promote the park’s case and its future through an intense open dialogue. The first stage of this process is the re-construction of a small building in the park, into an art activity and environmental-awareness space for children.

April - May 2004
The Lion Source Society holds the second Hermitage international meeting; hosting the artists to work within the context of the Hermitage park project.

The beginning of 2005
For their next Artistic Bridge, the Lion Source compares the Hermitage Park with gardens from Schiedam in Holland, and Chicago in the United States.

(Compiled from the website and information of the Lion Source Society)

La Source du Lion
Rue 3 N° 25. Hay Essalam - cil
Morocco
Website Email

Members:
Hassan Darsi
Mohamed Fariji
Rachid L’Moudenne.

Curator:
Florence Renault-Darsi


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