Interview with Mustapha Akrim

Mustapha Akrim’s residency concluded on March 27, following a farewell dinner and an interview with students about his work earlier that day. He answered questions over the course of forty-five minutes, speaking on a range of topics. Perhaps the most pressing question was the significance of his materials, especially the concrete in which Article 13, his most famous work, and Article 25, a version of which he created during his residency at Haverford, are cast. He attributed his materials to his time spent working construction with his father, a builder: “When I was in the building [industry] with my father, in the building you can find all the materials, concrete, the wood… everything… a lot of time I use the concrete, the idea became the petrification of this article. It’s very hard, it’s not accessible. It does not exist in the society, just on the paper.”

Akrim assembles the version of Article 25 that will appear in the exhibition. Photo by Lisa Boughter.

He refers here to Article 25 of the Moroccan constitution, which lends its title to the piece—a literal rendering of the text of this section of the constitution in concrete. Article 25 “talks about the freedom of expression and opinion,”  says Akrim, but “for me, when I read this part of the article that talks about the freedom of expression and opinion, when I look at my society, it’s very far [from that]; it’s not possible. I watch the TV or see in the newspaper, somebody goes to prison because he talked about the king or about government or about some person, official person, where is this freedom, where is this opinion, where is this expression?”

The finished work. Photo by Lisa Boughter.

Akrim is among Morocco’s most prominent and political artists today, and we were privileged to host him for the time we did. Look for his Article 25, alongside the works of many other distinguished artists, in the show next fall.