We visited the Maison de la Photographie in the Medina yesterday -- hot Sunday outing spent moving through cool white rooms and then taking in the view from the extraordinarily scenic terrace on top.
The space is fairly spare, as you'd imagine it would be; the photos take primacy -- striking, beautiful. Like the Musée de Marrakech with its fabrics and carvings, daggers and tilework, the Maison captures the bygone, achieves a stillness amidst the passing of people and time outside its doors.
A tiny "Shell Oil" sign caught my eye in one large-format image from Tangier, 1926. Nick Spicer, writing recently on the Al Jazeera website, called BP and its fellow oil barons modern-day Ahabs, in search of oil at any cost. The environment, of course, continues to pay. Those tiny grainy letters, small but distinct, also reminded me of a toss-away scene in Sabrina (out on Long Island Sound) when Audrey Hepburn asks Humphrey Bogart if he's ever been to Paris -- he replies, "Only for a night on the way to Baghdad for an oil deal." I'm sure he didn't say oil deal, but he did say Baghdad. How many Americans know our own (often exploitative) history when it comes to deals gone down?
The Maison also houses the first color print in Morocco, Georges Chevalier - Groupe d'enfants a Safi, Autochrome, 1926:
And others. This one, of a boy (not sure if it was taken in Marrakech), also hangs in the Musée de Marrakech a few winding streets away. He has a certain regard, a gentle tilt to his head, his body leans in just such a way. A looping scroll of stonework fixes itself above him. You wonder what he thought about that day or the days that followed (how many were there?), or what language his thoughts took shape within.
Here's a view of thirsty girl and balcony gallery beyond
Continuing up, we passed the doorway to a tiny kitchen
then took a steep little set of spiral steps to the terrace
and cold drinks
Across the way is the graveyard of all lanterns (says my friend)
and in the distance La Koutoubia -- blurred and framed by some heat-struck oleander
The Maison has an outpost in the Ourika valley -- here's the link to both sites: www.maison-delaphotographie.com