The Marrakech Museum for Photography and Visual Arts (MMPVA) launched its inaugural exhibition this week, featuring the work of several Magnum photographers.
Strangely, this museum, set to be the largest space dedicated to photography and digital visual media in the world, does not actually physically exist yet, nor will it open officially until 2016. It is currently being built, designed by British architect David Chipperfield. However, an exhibition to inaugurate the project was housed in the temporary MMPVA space at the El Badi Palace, in Morocco’s Red City.
Five photographers from leading agency Magnum were commissioned to photograph the city in order to produce images that would feature in the exhibition, which was created over an eight-day period. Mark Power, Jim Goldberg, Susan Meiselas, Abbas and Mikhael Subotzky took to the streets of the city to garner a photographic expression of Marrakesh. However, even the most seasoned of photographers encounter difficulties from time to time and apparently those at Magnum are no different. According to Sean O’Hagan, writing in the Observer, the undertaking came to resemble a chaotic experiment, not least because much of the city’s population did not want to be photographed.
“Jim was having a pretty hard time,” Mark Power told the Observer. “For myriad reasons, many people here do not like to be photographed, and they often make that clear. I tend to set up, then watch and wait from a distance, so I become invisible after a while. Jim is more up close, and this day no one was having it. In desperation he started shooting a few frames of a horse that happened to be passing. Suddenly this guy appears and goes: ‘No! Stop! My horse does not want to be photographed.’”
Susan Meiselas’s solution to this problem was to produce a pop-up studio in a public market in which women volunteered to be photographed. Meanwhile, Mikhael Subotzky, armed with a motorbike and video kit used to make 360-degree images, took to the streets and produced a film that shows Marrakesh from different perspectives – from alley ways to popular tourist spots.
The Marrakech Museum for Photography and Visual Arts will eventually be housed in a 6,000 metre-squared state-of-the-art facility, encompassing galleries, theatre space and educational facilities. It is thought that it will focus on three areas of lens-based media: architecture and design; photojournalism; and fashion and culture.