the youmein media festival

Youmein, which means two days in Arabic, is a festival that  brings together a group of artists over the course of two days to develop diverse, new work centered on a common theme. Beginning with a series of workshops and panels and culminating with a presentation of wholly original pieces created over this 48-hour period, this event provides an outlet for contemporary artists new and old to develop and exhibit their craft. The proposed festival structure will gather a group of artists over the course of two days to develop new work in a variety of media centered on a common theme. Beginning with a series of public showings of “works in progress” with new Youmein artists and alumni of previous editions alongside panel discussions at locations around Tangier, and culminating with a presentation of wholly original pieces created over the course of a 48-hour period, this event proposes an alternative narrative of borderland culture of the Tangier public sphere.

The Youmein Festival is a project conceived by Zakaria Alilech, A. George Bajalia, and Tom Casserly. Since 2015, Youmein has teamed up with and been supported by:

The American Language Center - Tangier; The Tangier-American Legation Instituted for Moroccan Studies (TALIM); DabaTeatr; TechnoPark Tangier; Association Tanger Région Action Culturelle (ATRAC); The Embassy of the United States of America in Morocco; Think Tanger; Border Art Factory.

poster by Ayoub al Jamal

poster by Ayoub al Jamal

August 25 - 27, 2015 edition 1: barzakh / limbo /برزخ 

August 25 -27, 2015, Border Art Factory, Tangier, Morocco.

Limbo, is the state of “in between”—a realm of stasis and inaction, of waiting without the knowledge of what, if anything, the future will bring. It is inextricably tied to the creation of borders (geographic, political, cultural, metaphorical). In the Bible, Limbo is the state of waiting for the Judgment Day—one foot in Heaven, one foot in
Hell, and both feet not quite anywhere at all. Similarly, in Islamic eschatology, al-Barzakh is the separation between the physical and spiritual worlds, where a soul is freed from the body, but unable to utilize action—it is here where the soul waits, contemplates, and prepares for al-Qiyamah. But this state isn’t limited to the theoretical...the idea of al-Barzakh flows through life in North
Africa, from the simple act of staring across the Strait of Gibraltar to a nearby (but unreachable) Spain, to the more mundane (but all too real) bureaucracy in everyday life that threatens to
destroy citizens’ ability to take action, leaving them to await judgment that may or may not come.

Roundtable discussion at the Tangier-American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies with A. George Bajalia and Dr. Emilio Spadola.

Participating Artists: Abdelmohcine Nakari
Abderrahim Benattabou
Bilal Touzani and Maï-Do Hamisultane Lahlou
Fatima Zohra Lahouitar and Othman Sellami
Hatim Essadek
Hicham Bouzid
Aurore Claverie and Youssoufa Mounchili (Voie des migrants)
Hosni Almoukhlis
Hugo Massa
Ramia Beladel
La Coja Dansa/ Raúl León
Zineb Benjelloun, Laila Hida
Ayoub El Jamal, Sonia Merazga, Mohammed Said Chair, Azad Farishtah


poster: Abdelmohcine Nakkari 2016

July 15 - 17, 2016 - Edition 2: Crisis / azma / الأزمة

Border Art Factory, Tangier, Morocco. The 21st century has been one of perpetual crisis. From food shortages and economic turmoil to failed states and governmental policies, crises have governed the frame through which the past 16 years have been narrated. In this iteration of the YOUMEIN CREATIVE MEDIA FESTIVAL, we invite artists to reflect on the origins of this term, and its uses across different languages and cultures. The Romance genealogy of “crisis” comes from the Greek krisis, or decision. A krisis could come at the end of a judicial trial, the consequence of juridical deliberation, or could come at a turning point in a disease, when the future is determined for better or for worse. In Arabic, ازمة) azma) denotes a similar meaning today, but comes out of the root for to aggravate or to make decisive or critical. In newspapers and in scholarship, these terms may be used interchangeably as translations for one another, but here we challenge our collaborators to think about the space that exists between these translations, as well as their overlap.


2016 Roundtable:
George Bajalia, Hicham Bouzid, Driss Ksikes on the theme of Azma / Crisis

Marie Gaidioz
Lena Krause
Wesal Yousef
Adil Kourkouni
Said Elhaddaji
Abderrahim Benattabou
Flore Grassiot, Ismaîl Assalih, Pierre Marchand
Mohammed Kannan
Moad Mzaoeg
Yussef Zaoui, Marwan Youssefi
Noussayba Lahlou
Omar Chennafi

photos: Omar Chennafi , 2016

poster: Nassim Azarzar

poster: Nassim Azarzar

July 27 - 29, 2017 - Edition 3: Imitation / Taqlid / تقليد

DabaTek Space, Technopark Tangier, Morocco. How do cultures change? Is a society made up of endless imitations that become canonized as tradition? Or do traditions change through borrowing from other cultures and societies? From the reiteration of
simple zilij patterns which come together to form a more complex whole, to the inventive riffing on established forms in slam poetry and contemporary dance, imitation is often at the root of the most
creative acts. In North and West Africa, Sufi scholars have long emphasized the memorization and imitation as the techniques of body which lead to an enlightened mind. In the late 19th century, French
sociologist Gabriel Tarde proposed imitation, invention, and interference as the three principles which form the basis of cultural change. Rather than searching for an origin, or an authentic kernel from which these imitations draw, how do these processes of borrowing and imitating become new cultural forms?
Is imitation simply blind appropriation, or does it form the basis of new traditions? North Africa, as both border and bridge between Africa and Europe, is home to a multitude of cultures which draw from one
another, and from those across both continents. In this iteration of the YOUMEIN CREATIVE MEDIA FESTIVAL, we invite artists to reflect on “imitation” across languages, cultures, and borders in North and West Africa.

2017 Participating Artists:

Adam Raougui
Ahmed Benattia Melgarejo, Nadia el Kastawi, Carlos Alcántara
Mehdi Djelil
Maya Benchikh el Fergoun
Nina Cholet, Boris Carré
M'hammed Kilito
Lena Krause & Ramia Beladel *Alumni collaboration project
Lotfi Souidi
Nassim Azarzar
Oussama Tabti

2017 Roundtable:
George Bajalia, Nouha Ben Yebdri, Carlos Perez Marin on the theme of Imitation/Tradition // Taqlid/Taqalid : 



August 2 - 4, 2018 - Edition 4: Limits /Al-Hadd/الحدّ

DabaTek Space, Technopark Tangier, Morocco.

What does it mean to set a limit? To reach a limit? To be (un)limited? How do we set limits, and when is acceptable to push the limit? Approaching a threshold, whether spatial (city limits/territorial boundaries), mathematical (asymptotic limits), or cultural (taboos/censorship), can fundamentally change the nature of previously limited subjects. And in liminal spaces, a seemingly unbridgeable boundary separating two places can suddenly take on a more flexible form. How do limits, either self-imposed or enforced by others, restrict progress? How do they encourage it? How are limits expressed in art, and how do limits define the boundaries of an artistic community or
public? Is art defined by the thresholds between types of media, disciplines, or practices? Do those
limits inhibit creative production and collaboration? Or does art benefit from restriction?
In this iteration of the Youmein Creative Media Festival, with its own built-in limits (time, space, theme), We invite artists to reflect on this theme in order to interrogate these limits and the limits of their own artistic practices. As always, the Youmein Festival encourages submissions for multi-disciplinary collaboration, as well as solo projects and proposals for new collaborations with other festival artists.

Participating Artists:

Youmein Kids Workshop (first edition): Nassim Azarzar, Abderrahim Benattabou (with Zanka 90), Romaine Prunières, Lena Krause, Sara Mediouni

2018 Roundtable: Laila Hida, Myriam Amroun, A. George Bajalia on the subject of limits socially, geographically, culturally, and between the art world and its publics.

Audio Link for podcast with Myriam Amroun, Laila Hida, and George Bajalia:

Special podcast with Firas Hamdan and George Bajalia:

poster: Nassim Azarzar (shortlisted for Best Arabic Poster, 2018)

photos: Youssef Mounchili (