“Plastic ? No thank you !”

© G.Suaria/Tara Expéditions

10 November 2014

In Tangier for a few days, agnès b. spent an evening in the company of the Taranautes. The co-founder and main sponsor of Tara Expeditions knows Morocco well. She first went there 40 years ago, when she was not yet making a living from her first boutique, located in Paris on rue du jour. Before sharing an excellent tajine and the traditional mint tea, we talked with her about Morocco, but also about what connects her to Tara: art.

You know Morocco well, and are very attached to this country…

I’ve been coming to Morocco regularly for 40 years. The first time was for a job, I had some dresses dyed for Pierre D’Alby. That’s how I discovered Morocco. I was working in a Casablanca dye workshop with a gentleman named Youssef. He made dyes with natural products and produced wonderful colors.  Afterwards, we put the dresses outside on the terrace to dry. This was my very first trip. I had just gotten married, we rented a 4L and left for a trip to southern Morocco. We had some great experiences.  We took travelers in our car, and they invited us into their homes where there was almost nothing, but the essential: human warmth. I’ve always loved this country, and I discovered its various regions. Here in Tangier, we’re in the Strait of Gibraltar, the gateway to Europe, and we have a foot in Africa.

Is this continent an inspiration to you?

Of course. I’ve always created city clothes in “boubou” form, including for Philippe Starck. In fact, my next summer collection includes fabrics and dresses made from African boubous.

Morocco is known for its beautiful crafts. Walking in Marrakech or the medina of Tangier, you realize that the artisans can make things out of very little. It’s a country that inspires me: the music and the way they do things. When you watch people working, you realize they do things with respect, talent  and sensitivity, and the result is always impressive. It’s very beautiful, and an incredible expertise exists there which should not be lost.

The Cinémathèque de Tanger has generously hosted the Tara conference. Your name is on one of the seats in the big theater.  What is your relationship with this place?

I’ve been helping the Cinémathèque for 10 years now, starting when the artist Yto Barrada was its director. I love his work. The Cinémathèque needs to be supported. It attracts a lot of young people. The Rif Cinema, on the Grand Socco, is a mythical place because it was the first movie house in Tangier. Now it’s also a café where people gather. For me this cinémathèque is like the heart of the city.

This year, Tara hosted 11 artists in residence, selected from their portfolios and resumés.  Is it important to you that the very different worlds of science and art meet?

I think scientists and artists have a lot to talk about, to discover from each other. For me this is very important. I wanted to get artists on board for a long time, because I can not live without art. Art has always nourished me – both music and the visual arts. Artists often put their finger on what others do not see.

I just met Malik Nejmi who disembarked in Tangier. We’ll exhibit his work at Paris Photo. We’ll hang the photos on Monday, and the opening is scheduled for Tuesday. This year’s theme is intimacy and the Mediterranean. We’ll also display Nan Goldin’s photos from 1976 or 1983 to 1986. I was the first to represent this great photographer of the intimate; and then there will be the photos of Hervé Guibert.

 

Tara’s 10th expedition is focused on the study of plastic pollution, and some artists have based their work on this theme. What are your thoughts on the subject?

I refuse plastic bags. I think it would be great if people would just say, “No thank you, I don’t want plastic” when bags are offered in grocery stores, pharmacies or at the market. If everyone said “plastic, no thanks” that would be a good start. Here in Tangier, when someone hands you a plastic bag, they’re giving you a present. But these bags fly around everywhere, like small kites, even in the desert.

What are your wishes for the future of Tara?

Future generations will use Tara. Tara is for the long term – until 2050 or longer, and I hope there will be another Tara, a grand-son…

Interviewed by Noëlie Pansiot

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