School of Casablanca:
Abdeslam Ziou Ziou
Berrechid 81


A Public Program by Abdeslam Ziou Ziou
31 May – 5 June 2021


130 Boulevard Zerktouni
Casablanca, Morocco





Berrechid 81: A look back at a collective experience at the edge of art and psychiatry


In the hot early summer of 1981, an unusual activity takes place at the psychiatric hospital in Berrechid, Morocco. Painters, writers, directors and intellectuals are invited to share the daily life of patients for a week. This experience will unlock the hospital, a ‘sanctuary of madness’ known all over Morocco, to its immediate environment. Murals are made, concerts, discussions and other happenings are organised, the press is invited. The citizens of Berrechid will finally be at liberty to visit this ‘fortress of madness’ for the first time. The main idea behind this event is to bring to light the conditions of patient care at the hospital. There is also a firm will to bring in other segments of society, especially artists, into the narrative around patient care.


This experience is part of a global approach that Dr Ziou Ziou Abdellah adopted in 1975. By opening up to anti-psychiatry practices and with a growing interest in popular forms of treatment of mental illness beyond psychiatry, Dr Ziou Ziou’s project synthesised different forms and modalities of mental health care in Morocco. Unfortunately, for various reasons, this dynamic was halted and later forgotten.


Through an in-depth research of archive material (oral, written and visual) from this period, Dr Ziou Ziou’s son Abdeslam reconstructs the threads of a family history that cross national and transnational collective dynamics. He explores questions such as how to make visible a research in the folds of family intimacy? How to abrogate a planned oblivion? And how do collective dynamics come to life and die?



Part of the School of Casablanca


School of Casablanca is a collaborative project that takes as its starting point the legacy of the Casablanca Art School and its innovative pedagogical methods and exhibition strategies in 1960s Morocco.


KW Institute for Contemporary Art and Sharjah Art Foundation, in collaboration with Goethe-Institut Marokko, ThinkArt and Zamân Books & Curating have initiated the School of Casablanca. The project includes research residencies, public programs, a digital archive and a touring exhibition of new works created by the residents as well as an exhibition of historical works by the artists who were originally associated with the Casablanca Art School. Launched in 2020, the initiative will continue through 2024.


This public program accompanies Abdeslam Ziou Ziou’s research residency at ThinkArt in Casablanca, Morocco, which ran from October 2020 – May 2021. The programme marks a milestone in his research and field work, which contribute to an ongoing investigation/installation on familial and public archives of the Berrechid Psychiatric Hospital in Morocco and its ground-breaking therapeutic practices at the junction of art and psychiatry.