As America entered into one of the most decisive eras in its modern history, Moroccan artist Sara Ouhaddou collaborated with CULTURUNNERS on ‘Out Among The Stars', the first of their artist’s journeys in 2017.
The global rise of nationalist sentiments across the world has become one of the historical phenomena of our times. In January 2017 Sara embarked on a cross-country US road-trip, from East to West coast, to explore the many facets of American nationalism in both major cities and traditionally rural low-income towns in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and California.
Sara has been working on the subject of the five-point star, a symbol of strong spiritual and cultural significance. In both Moroccan and American culture, this symbol is the central motif of the national flags. Through a series of journeys between Morocco and the US, the larger project will bring together Moroccan and American craftsmen to develop a new ‘star constellation'; one, which through innovation in shape, material and context, challenges established associations, and generates new meaning.
While on the road developing ‘Out Among the Stars’, Sara documented the stars that she encountered and simultaneously interviewed local people on their interpretation of the meaning of this symbol. The star appears on the American flag, as part of national and regional logos and sports mascots. In a growing xenophobic American society, Sara hoped to unpack the intricate sentiments that are tied to nationalism and fear of pluralism in an effort to transcend local and global divisions, and act as a bridge between cultures.
In the build up to the inauguration of Donald Trump, Sara travelled from New York to Los Angeles with stops at the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, cotton fields in Mississippi, the McDonald Observatory in Texas, as well as RV Parks, truck stops, shopping malls and gun ranges among other locations. Her journey culminated at the LA’s Women’s March on January 21st 2017.
Motivated by a curiosity to adapt traditional visual language to future possibilities, as well as a desire to support traditional craft techniques, which are at risk of being forgotten in contemporary society, Sara's US tour acted as a connector of people and ideas across the most complex and contested ideological border of our time.
Photographs by Marwen Farhat
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