Abbatoirs: From Meat to Culture
Installations and Exhibtions
Morocco’s ﬁrst contemporary cultural biennial, and the ﬁrst of its kind in North Africa, Les Transculturelles des Abattoirs was held in the former slaughterhouses of Casablanca, known as the Abattoirs de Casablanca. For the event, the slaughterhouses were transformed into a vast industrial exhibition space, hosting a wide range of art, architecture, video installations, dance performances, and concerts. Curated by Bureau E.A.S.T. (Aziza Chaouni and Takako Tajima), the architecture component of Les Transculturelles introduced a series of micro public spaces into the abattoirs. Nestled inside the larger space of the slaughterhouses, these autonomous, small-scale mobile structures were designed to encourage interaction and occupation. An international roster of architects contributed installations for the event, including Atelier Bow-Wow (Tokyo), Ofﬁce dA (Boston), Khoury Levit Fong/Emergent Software (Toronto), Interboro Partners (New York), Eric Ellingsen (Chicago), and Kilo Architectures (Casablanca).
Bureau E.A.S.T’s installation was one that would continue to be used after the end of the Biennale event. In response to the need for play space for local children (who live in cramped spaces that average 5 people per household), the installation constitutes a set of swings utilizing existing meat hooks set on functioning tracks. The swings, built with cheap nylon ropes and sheepskins readily available in shops all around the slaughterhouse, were spread over a central alleyway of the main slaughterhouse hall. The swings create a continuous visual tunnel in the alleyway, delineating the playground’s territory while creating a visual focal point and channeling people towards the back courtyard of the Abattoirs.
More than 100,000 people attended the event in two days. Since then, the Abattoirs have been managed by artist volunteers and the NGO Casa Memoir, and has become the venue for a set of events ranging from musical performances, dance shows, plays, workshops, and more.
Photography by Corinne Béguin.