Ahmed Bouanani

Ahmed Bouanani

The filmmaker and writer Ahmed Bouanani (1938–2011) was born in Casablanca. When Bouanani was sixteen, during the final days of the colonial era, his father, a police officer, was assassinated—a tragedy that the artist returned to in his work for the rest of his life. Bouanani studied film at the Institut des hautes études cinématographiques (IDHEC) in Paris for three years before returning to Morocco and going on to direct several classics of North African cinema. Most of his movies had their genesis in poems, and he published three collections during his lifetime, as well as the novel The Hospital, also appearing in English for the first time with New Directions. Never keen to publish, Bouanani left behind a trove of additional manuscripts.

The Hospital

Fiction by Ahmed Bouanani

Translated from the French by Lara Vergnaud

With a contribution by Anna Della Subin

“When I walked through the large iron gate of the hospital, I must have still been alive…” So begins Ahmed Bouanani’s arresting, hallucinatory 1989 novel The Hospital, appearing for the first time in English translation. Based on Bouanani’s own experiences as a tuberculosis patient, the hospital begins to feel increasingly like a prison or a strange nightmare: the living resemble the dead; bureaucratic angels of death descend to direct traffic, claiming the lives of a motley cast of inmates one by one; childhood memories and fantasies of resurrection flash in and out of the narrator’s consciousness as the hospital transforms before his eyes into an eerie, metaphorical space.…
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The Shutters

Poetry by Ahmed Bouanani

Translated from the French by Emma Ramadan

The Shutters collects the two most important poetry collections—”The Shutters” and “Photograms”—by the legendary Moroccan writer Ahmed Bouanani. By intertwining myth and tradition with the familiar objects and smells of his lived present, Bouanani reconstructs vivid images of Morocco’s past. He weaves together references to the Second World War, the Spanish and French protectorates, the Rif War, dead soldiers, prisoners, and poets screaming in their tombs with mouths full of dirt.…
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Hallucinatory.

—Guy Gunaratne, Guardian 2018 Best Summer Books

After the collective trauma of the colonial occupation of Morocco, a vanguard of artists forged cultural practices that sought to establish a new vision of the country, appealing to its ancient traditions passed down through oral culture. Filmmaker, poet, and writer Ahmed Bouanani was a towering presence in this landscape, pioneering a cinematic and poetic language that influenced a generation to come.

Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art
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