Al Halqa Project

The Djemaa El Fna, „Hangman’s Square“ in Marrakech, is a magnificent site of a dreams from original artistic performances such as dance, acrobatics, storytelling, fortune-telling and sorcery. It is a patchwork of ever-renewing traditions, which today are rightly counted as „Intangible World Heritage“ (UNESCO). And it happens everyday.
The project started with the documentary film "Al Halqa - In the Storyteller's Circle", which concentrates on the transmission of the art of storytelling between a father and his son. The film could be finished in 2010 with the support of the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media and has been screened successfully on several national and international film festivals. The film was awarded with 2 prices.
In 2011, the following project "Al Halqa Kinetics" was presented at the house of world cultures in Berlin. This interactive kinetic sculpture was supported by "Kulturstiftung des Bundes." The installations was in a way the technical and technological translation, a materialisation of the rich intangible arts of the juggler on a virtual space.
"Al Halqa Virtual" - a virtual museum of Jemaa El Fna Square will be the final part of the entire project. All information that have been collected over the years - films, recorded audio-material, texts, photos, etc. will be made accessible on one platform and can be shared with every person that has access to the internet.
Aside from a browser-based internet plarform, there will be apps for mobile devices in order to access the information of the virtual square directly on the physical square Jemaa El Fna.

> more info on the project's website:

Documentary Film

Al Halqa - In the Storyteller's Circle

2010, Documentary, 90 min.


On Djemaa el Fna Square in the Moroccan city of Marrakech, Abderahim El Maqori tells stories that he has been collecting in his mind and heart since he was a child. Now that he is growing older, he is teaching his son Zoheir the tricks of a dying trade.


In the Halqa, the storyteller's circle, the boy practices his skills and his father provides blunt criticism. Once Zoheir, who got his name from a story that Abderahim told the day he was born, is ready for it, he and his father travel to Fez, the intellectual capital of Morocco, for the ultimate test on the large city square. The camera follows the pair on their journey, which is interspersed with stories about ghosts, kings, shoemakers and animals, and we get to see the special bond between father and son, who certainly do not agree with one another all the time. Zoheir has to find his own style for a new generation of listeners, who do not only want to hear about days long past, but also get information about things like AIDS. For the rest, the Halaiqi are not alone in wanting to keep the folk traditions intact. Zoheir's favorite actor Mohamed Hassan El Joundi explains why he records stories of bygone eras in his studio: stories nurture people and teach them to have ambitions and dreams.

The film was supported by:

Kinetic Sculpture

Al Halqa Kinetics

Exhibition at Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin, 2011
In collaboration with Hannes Nehls

On the large bustling square Jemaa El Fna in Marrakech the most diversified currents of vital archaic of immaterial arts come together. The square is a site in which the oral and gestural transmissions, which once were to be found all over Morocco are still sustained from their beginnings.
The Djemaa El Fna, Hangman’s Square, in Marrakech is the scene of daily new performances from carneys and impersonators, who fill the square with dance, chant, stories, acrobatics, magic and fortune telling. In circles, the so-called “Halqas”, the audience gathers around the performers and storytellers to experience their mastery and knowledge. The square is part of the “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”, declared by UNESCO in 2001. 

The walkable, interactive sculpture - a collaboration between Thomas Ladenburger and Hannes Nehls - transforms the experience at Djemaa El Fna and makes it perceptible with the help of projections, lighting, film and acoustics. The performative shows in the square and, to a certain extend, the square itself are resurrected and reanimated through the installation. The installation was shown in Berlin and was planned to move on to Paris.
The visitor entrances into a large dark room, in which many gleaming cloth-panels are seemingly levitating. The narrow panels consist of a light fabric, which have the look of traditional Moroccan clothing, the Fokiah or Djellaba. 

The panels choreographically float through the room. Sound comes from within the depth of the room - recordings from the Halqas on the Djemaa El Fna. Like the visitors the panels aim towards the source of the recordings. They wander in its direction and gather themselves into a circle of "listeners", just as if they were listening themselves. 

As soon as the panels come close to the acoustic source, projections of moving imagery and the visual worlds of the Halqas from Djemaa El Fna reflect from their surface. If the visitor comes into contact with the panels, which is encouraged, they interact with the person and move aside and clear the path into the centre of the circle, the source of sound and projection. 

Similar to the Djemaa El Fna Square in Marrakech, the whole installation is in constant flux.

Virtual Museum

Al Halqa Virtual

Internet-based archive

The virtual square Jemaa El Fna as a collective memory


The intangible world heritage, the orally transmitted stories that have been given on from generation to generation are not only in the hearts and minds of the storytellers on Jemaa El Fna but also in the hearts and minds of each grandmother, each grandfather and part of the Moroccan people. Within time, the thread of transmission from one generation to the other has become fragile.


This is where the idea of the virtual museum Jemaa El Fna was born. In almost every Moroccan household is someone with a smartphone and therefore the ability to record images and sound. With the virtual museum, the Moroccan poeple are invited to record the stories or their grand-mothers and grand-fathers and upload these to the archive in order to share them with everyone.


It is not the already existing footage - hundreds of hours of video material, thousands of photographs, texts and historical material - but the active participation of visitors that can make "Al Halqa Virtual" a collective memory of the intangible world Heritage in Morocco.


Another important aspect - besides collecting tales - is to reveal the cultural context in which the hlaiqi of Jemaa El Fna square are performing, to throw a glance behind the coulisse.


Many of the halqas are inseperably connected with different regions of Morocco. Documentary films will tell these stories which will be accessible at the virtual platform in different languages.


Imagin to visit Jemaa El Fna square with its ever changing spectacle for the first time. A foreign world will open up In front of you with the hlaiqi in the middle of the circle of surrounding spectators. But what are they talking about? What is happening there and where does this century old form of culture come from? 


On "Al Halqa Virtual" you will find information to these questions. You'll get the possibility to watch translated parts of their performances, hear about the cultural background and historical context. What kind of halqa was at this spot years ago and what was it all about - a virtual guide for the visitors of Jemaa El Fna square.


> visit the project's website: