A.MAL Presents: Working with Family Archives from North Africa

Monday 11 July, 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

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Online panel discussion
This event will be streamed on LAAF’s social media platforms.

Photographs, videos, recipes as well as poems and songs all exist as our own personal archives. How are these archives accessed, who has access and what are the ethics of working with them (or not)?

Multifaceted objects and visual documents, which are enmeshed in Europe’s colonial interventions in North Africa and its postcolonial resonances are held in family archives. Artists and researchers from North Africa and its globally dispersed diaspora as well as from the formerly coloniser countries return to these objects to access not only a part of family history, but also to take a glance at historically determined asymmetric relations between the Global North and the Global South.

Moderated by Jessica El Mal, A.MAL presents a discussion into this topic from the perspective of food historian Salma Serry of Sufra Kitchen, artist Imane Zoubai and media scholar Elodie Sacher. The diverse perspectives offered by the panel offer timely insight into the use of family archives.


A.MAL is an art and research initiative exploring ecology, migration and globalization through speculative art and research projects. We cast a critical eye on past and present global issues while seeking to harness human connection and creativity to imagine a better, more hopeful future – always questioning, always exploring. We are keen to contextualize ecological concerns within contemporary global – in particular post-colonial – relations and climate justice in the context of North Africa.

We create opportunities for collaboration and experimentation through paid artist residencies, paying for workshops and talks, and touring exhibitions across Europe/North Africa. We bring emerging artists and mid-career artists and creatives from Europe, North Africa and the diaspora, to engage in reciprocal learning and experience sharing.

We have collaborated with ONCA (Brighton, UK), International Lost Species Day, Dardishi (Scotland), P21 Gallery (London), Liverpool Arab Arts Festival (UK), The Arab British Center (London), Le Cube (Rabat), Pikala Bikes (Marrakech), Mahal (Tangiers) and the Africa/UK: Transforming Art Ecologies from New Art Exchange (Nottingham), as well as a wide network of individual artists across Morocco and Europe.


Jessica El Mal is an English-Moroccan artist and curator dedicated to valuing time, care and human connection in everything she works on. With a particular interest in ecology and migration, her work is both deeply personal and yet draws on the universality of the human experience through a balance of digital techniques, aesthetics and interaction. In addition to working on A.MAL Projects, she also hosts art and nature groups for people with experience of migration in Manchester, UK, benefiting from the healing aspects of both whilst also acting against the lack of representation with the UK’s natural spaces.

Elodie Sacher ​​is a media scholar with a special interest in visual and media cultures, focusing on photography and its historical as well as contemporary dimensions. She is holding a BA in Cultural Studies & Cultural Policy and is currently enrolled in a master program about Art & Film Studies.  Elodie has been studying and working in Casablanca since 2018. In 2019, she worked for the cultural association L’Atelier de l’Observatoire (2019) accompanying projects about the material culture as well as implicit (intangible) cultural heritage of Casablanca. More recently, her French grandfather’s photo album picturing a trip in Morocco from the 1960s led her to the French protectorate’s archives and to the question of the intersection of gazes in photographs emanating from a colonial context/past. In her current research, she traces the history of photography in Morocco based on the royal portraits of Moroccan kings.


Imane Zoubai (born in 1998, Fez) is a visual artist and graduated from the Institut National des Beaux-Arts of Tétouan in 2020. From 2015 to 2019, she studied Melhoun, Oud and music theory at the music conservatory. Her work takes a special interest in the various ways of visualizing poetry as a form of musical emotion by exploring rhythm and its multiple manifestations. Her approach includes different media and techniques such as sound recording, drawing, writing and engraving. This approach seeks to reflect on new systems of composition and musical writing.


Salma Serry is a food researcher, writer and filmmaker. She is the founder of Sufra Kitchen, a social media platform that re-approaches food history and culture of the SWANA. In 2020, while pursuing her graduate studies in Gastronomy at Boston University, she launched an independent project that has collected, archived and now houses over 400 historical regional cookbooks and culinary ephemera. The result of her work is often an investigation – habitually in writing and occasionally in a film format- of the entanglement of food in class, migration, and culture as it occurs/ed.  Her latest writings were published in Arab Literature Quarterly, CNT Traveller and You Are Here: The Journal of Creative Geography. She was recently awarded the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) and the Arab Council for Social Sciences grant for her ongoing project that documents a 100 years of culinary ephemera from SWANA’s archives.

Image: Grandfather’s photo album picturing his travels through Morocco in the 1960s, courtesy of Elodie Sacher.

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