Visual arts

Laïla Hida, artist and curator, winner of the Recanati-Kaplan Prize

My work is the culmination of a process in which the outward gaze turns inward, out of a need to address more intimate and therefore more universal issues.

In residence at Villa Arson in 2022 with support from the Institut français’ Visas pour la Création programme, artist and curator Laïla Hida, founder of Le 18 in Marrakech, is the first winner of the Recanati-Kaplan Prize. Next year, she will also be one of the curators selected for the Art Explorer touring exhibition project. 

Updated on 11/07/2023

5 min

Born in Casablanca in 1983, Laïla Hida studied in Paris before returning to Morocco in 2009. It was here in 2013 that she launched Le 18, a cultural venue nestled in the heart of the medina in Marrakesh that is gradually becoming a fixture on the Moroccan art scene. Since then, she has been combining her curatorial work with her personal practice, which unfolds over several long-term projects. A case in point is Everything is temporary, consisting of archives and fragments initially intended for a book, which also bears witness to a relationship with time characterized by urgency and fragmentation. This dimension is echoed in her installation The Long and Slow Decay of Things, a reflection on the decrepitude of objects and their gradual obliteration. Deeply rooted in her local environment, Laïla Hida also works extensively with Marrakesh and its population, confronted by mass tourism and its received heritage identity. 

For over a decade, Laïla Hida's research has focused on how public and private spaces are negotiated and shared in ways that are often perceived as unequal. Through her works, in many cases created in collaboration or assistance from residents of Marrakesh, she explores the consequences of mass tourism. Such is the case with Boulevard de la résistance, which looks at the figure of the "official" guide, as opposed to the "false guide", often a local who wanders around town with foreigners, hoping for something in return. Composed of a series of interviews and interventions in public spaces, this work also resonates with Arnakech, an installation and photographic device first installed in Marrakesh's famous Jemaa El Fna square, which features several stereotypical Oriental motifs such as the palm tree. 

Awarded the Visa pour la Création, Laïla Hida was a resident at Villa Arson in 2022, developing her artistic and curatorial project L'Oasis des savoirs endogènes, which examines the presence of the palm tree in non-native spaces, in cities such as Nice and Los Angeles. An Orientalist symbol with multiple and complex meanings, the oasis is at once a place of meeting and movement, but also of colonial appropriation. This year, Laïla Hida became the first recipient of the Recanati-Kaplan Prize, the fruit of a collaboration between the Recanati-Kaplan Foundation and the Villa Albertine, in partnership with the Institut du Monde Arabe, which will enable her to pursue her research during a two-month residency in the United States. In 2024, she will also be one of a panel of curators chosen for the Art Explora travelling festival, a project of unprecedented scope that will see the museum ship ARTEXPLORER, the largest catamaran in the world, dock in nearly a dozen Mediterranean ports.

  • 1983


    Born in Casablanca.

  • 2013


    Launch of Le 18, Marrakech.

  • 2015


    Beginning of Everything is temporary project.

  • 2022


    Residency at Villa Arson.

  • 2023


    Winner of the Recanati-Kaplan Prize.

L'institut français, LAB