We went to Tiznit – a historical center of North African jewellery making – looking for the ‘cloisonné’ enamel technique, found only in specific and unrelated regions of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. We took Ahmed Bouanani’s drawings of traditional jewellery with us. He made them in the 1960s, as a record of something doomed to disappear. Today around Tiznit the craftsmen’s villages are indeed empty. Many techniques are forgotten. Jewellery is losing its place in social ritual, becoming a merely commercial sector. But keen eyes and dextrous hands remain, as does the habit of melting down old pieces to create new ones. Neither the makers nor the users of these objects fetishize them. They leave authenticity to the anthropologists. Artisans are not the keepers of a temple, but the heirs of skills they constantly revitalize. Inspired by this, we forsook the melancholy search and turned to invention instead. If jewellery is a language, with a syntax of materials, forms and techniques, we could perhaps – with the help of a master craftsman – write new sentences. Create our own authentically false pieces. Make speculative fiction out of the extant scraps of a dying heritage.

Omar Berrada is a writer and curator, and the director of Dar al-Ma’mûn, a library and artists residency in Marrakech. His work focuses on the politics of translation and intergenerational transmission. He is the author of the poetry collection Clonal Hum (2020), and the editor or co- editor of several books, including Album – Cinémathèque de Tanger, a multilingual volume about film in Tangier and Tangier on film (2012), The Africans, a book on migration and racial politics in Morocco (2016), and Ahmed Bouanani’s posthumous history of Moroccan cinema, La Septième Porte (2020). Currently living in New York, he teaches at The Cooper Union where he co-organizes the IDS Lecture Series.
& M’barek Bouhchichi is a visual artist who uses a variety of media – painting, drawing, sculpture, installation. His work moves from individual discourse to broader social, poetic and historical systems, through a visual language grounded in exploring the limits between inner thoughts and their vocalization. His recent work focuses on the history of Black Amazigh people in southern Morocco. By shedding light on this community’s practices, Bouhchichi symbolically unsettles established divisions of space and labor. His work has recently been exhibited at Dak’art (Dakar), Savvy Contemporary (Berlin), Kulte Gallery (Rabat), Mucem (Marseille), MACAAL (Marrakech), Centre Pompidou (Paris), among others. He lives and works in Tahanaout, Morocco.