Souffles: An Artist’s Advocacy for a Humanist Project in Morocco
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Souffles was one of the most influential cultural and political journals to emerge in postcolonial North Africa. Cultural journalist Kenza Sefrioui traces its history from its inception in 1966 to it being banned in 1972.
Souffles was founded in 1966 by Abdellatif Laâbi along with a group of young Moroccan poets and artists. It was one of the most influential literary, cultural and political journals to emerge in post-colonial North Africa. The journal gathered writers, painters, film directors and political activists who shared the idea that Morocco’s independence was not totally accomplished without the decolonisation of culture.
The journal set out to challenge the artistic and political status quo. The group focussed on Moroccan culture, drawing on traditional visual culture as a source for contemporary innovations. They insisted on the necessity of having a critical reading of tradition to develop its creative, revolutionary and universal potential. Souffles was banned in 1972, seven years after it was founded.
Kenza Sefrioui is a literary critic and publisher in Casablanca. She was in charge of the cultural section in the Moroccan magazine Le Journal Hebdomadaire from 2005 to 2010 and is now a contributor to Tel Queland. Kenza studied comparative literature at the Sorbonne University (Paris IV) and published her doctoral thesis The review Souffles (1966-1973): hopes of cultural revolution in Morocco (Editions du Sirocco, Grand Atlas Prize, 2013).