Artistic incubation
Art exhibition "Bayt Al Fenn" 2023

A critical examination of the topic of childhood in Morocco
Artistic incubation

Art is a beautiful and effective language. This is also, or even more so, true in Morocco. The North African country is a jumble of languages. Darija (Moroccan Arabic), classical Arabic, Tamazigh (Berber), French, English, and even Spanish work to a certain extent, but no single language is the key to the kingdom. If there were such a universally spoken language, it could be art. Crafts and arts have been part of Moroccan culture for centuries and are appreciated all over the world. Today, traditional disciplines such as painting, music, and architecture coexist in the Moroccan art scene with modern forms of expression such as rap, graffiti, and poetry slam. Music festivals abound, and the old medinas are now full of modern murals.

Against this backdrop, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom has been running the "Bayt Al Fenn" (House of Art) programme with the Moroccan cultural foundation Hiba for three years. The programme aims to promote diversity and tolerance through the language of art while giving up-and-coming artists a chance to present themselves on a big stage for the first time.

The third edition has now been crowned by two openings and subsequent exhibitions at the National Library of Morocco in Rabat and the American Arts Center in Casablanca, which were attended by more than 500 people. The eleven artists had previously explored the theme of childhood during a eight-day residency in an Eco-lodge near Benslimane.

Childhood is a universal experience, but it differs from person to person, society to society, and from generation to generation. It shapes the citizens of tomorrow and their understanding of freedom and responsibility, values and taboos. What is allowed to be thought and said? What constitutes a successful life? What role do origin, gender, or religion play in this? Last but not least, the theme of childhood naturally stimulates the imagination and thus serves as suitable inspiration for the artists.

The artists' collective used various techniques and forms of presentation to process their ideas, as Bayt Al Fenn is unusually a multidisciplinary residency.

Designer Mouad Ladraa has created a sculpture of two human silhouettes that symbolise the inner dialogue between the innocent child and the conditioned adult. The skin of the two figures consists of several layers of recycled materials and is a metaphor for the DNA shaped by our environment and our consumer behaviour.


Bayt Al Fenn's stage programme includes a poetry slam by Badr Lachhab aka Pedro, who reminds the audience of the fate of the tens of thousands of street children who lack attention, care and education in Morocco.

The large-format, embroidered baby photos by visual artist Meriem Mihammou deal with even younger children. They show a male and a female infant. The arrival of the latter is traditionally celebrated with less fanfare. The message is that discrimination against women often begins at birth.

dés la naissance

Street artist Mohammed Rochdi aka Rosh also talks about discrimination against women. "I Want to Play" confronts us with the thorny issue of underage marriage in Morocco. Mohammed Rochdi presents three powerful creations that challenge us on the rights lost by these young children through early marriage. The artist explores, in particular, the right to play, essential to the growth and development of every child.

i want to play

The animated short film by Kawtar Waddi is also about unfulfilled wishes. It tells the story of her younger self, who dreams of becoming a professional illustrator - a wish that her own family was neither willing to understand nor support due to a lack of role models and job prospects.


These are just four of the ten works in this year's edition, which were on display in Rabat and Casablanca and which can also be seen at You can also follow Bayt Al Fenn on Instagram and Facebook, view past editions or suggest a theme for 2024.