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Global Art Forum speaker Maud Houssais on arriving in Morocco post-art school in France

Global Art Forum is Art Dubai’s critically-acclaimed annual transdisciplinary arts conference, which combines original thinking and contemporary themes in an intimate, live environment.


Following on from last year’s theme of automation, Global Art Forum 2019 unites a diverse cast of global minds – from renowned curators and critics to educationalists and entrepreneurs – under the theme of ‘School is a Factory?’ to address some of the urgent challenges and opportunities facing education today.


In the lead up the two-day summit, its co-directors Victoria Camblin and Fawz Kabra asked some of this year’s speakers a few fun questions on their unique educational paths, if school prepared them for real life and just how optimistic they are about the future of education.

Hotel Les Gorges du Dades, Boumalne, 1971-1972, architects : Faraoui and de Mazières, archives : Faraoui and de Mazières architects

Maud Houssais, independent researcher and curator, reflects on the qualities of standout teachers and what art school taught her:


Who was an important or formative teacher in your youth and what made them special?

During my school path, I had the chance to have met several art teachers who have been extremely important in the development of my career in art. Although encountered at different times in my life, from adolescence to young adulthood, these teachers all had one thing in common: to use transmission methods based on kindness. They put the learner at the heart of their teaching, using our personal and individual knowledge as the basis of their method.


Did school prepare you for “real life”? If not, what did?

Studying in art school that did not prepare me for working life. Centered on the personal practices of future artists, the school was more of a space stimulating self-learning than a place of institutional knowledge and vertical relationship between the teacher and the student. Although school did not prepare me for “real life” in terms of professional training, school gave me the most useful tool to face my professional life: to be in constant learning.

Painted ceiling, Mohamed Melehi, Hotel Les Roses du Dades, Kelaa M’Gouna, 1971-1972, architects : Faraoui and de Mazières, archives : Faraoui and de Mazières architects

What did you have to unlearn after school?

I started working in the world of art in Morocco while I was still a student in France. The school was mainly organized around a Euro-centred education which did not reflect the concerns of students, which was a desire to emancipate the dominant discourses and practices in art, a desire to question cultural hegemony relating to gender, minorities, and race. These are the heritages of a Euro-centered education that I had to unlearn when I arrived in Morocco in order to apprehend a new body of artistic practices that I had no knowledge of.

Given the choice, what would you have done differently in your educational path?

I think that studying in an art school was the best option for me, putting the freedom of creation and reflection at the centre of learning. Nevertheless, in retrospect, I found it difficult to flourish in a context where the majority of teachers were men. Several students created a support group that implemented artistic manifestos and performances to denounce this situation, to which I did not associate myself, not yet understanding the scope of their actions and the accuracy of their message.

Maghreb Art cover, n°3, 1969, published by the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Casablanca

Are you pessimistic or optimistic about the future of education?

I am optimistic about the development of new alternative learning practices, notably implemented by the civil society in Morocco, in particular by setting up research centres within universities, publishing houses dedicated to the democratization of major social issues and open spaces for debates. As a teacher and considering the context in which I teach (Morocco), I can only be pessimistic about the decline of quality public education and the lack of visual and cultural education from a young age.


Maud joins Global Art Forum on Wednesday March 20, 4:35-4:55pm, for “The Bauhaus School (Part II): (What) are we still learning?” a discussion with Marion Schmidt von Osten, artistic director of Bauhaus imaginista, on how culture as a social project can be reimagined in a relevant way.


Global Art Forum is open to the public (including non-ticket holders) and free to attend. Global Art Forum is supported by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

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