[Mahjouba Initiative] Laurens Landerweerd – the nature of craft and the origins of industry

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This interview, carried out by curator Phillip Van Den Bossche, was part of the research & development of the Mahjouba Initiative’s third think-tank focused on its socioeconomic model.

The third Mahjouba Think Tank is organized by the art and design museum Vandalorum and the Linnaeus University, both in Småland, Sweden, as a part of the New Småland project and the Fenduq Monographic exhibition of Eric Van Hove at Vandalorum (2020-2021).

The Mahjouba* Initiative is an artistic endeavor by Morocco-based, Belgian artist Éric van Hove, with the aim of developing a new experimental socio-economic, artistic, and manufacturing platform around the first ever Moroccan-made moped. The artist describes it as ”a meta-artwork where the medium is the system”. Mopeds are one of the most popular means of transport in Morocco. They are currently imported en masse from Asia, but van Hove is convinced that instead they can be made locally, by craftsmen.

The numerous mopeds in Morocco produce heavy noise pollution in the cities and petrol engines are a considerable environmental problem, though not as big as the socio-economic dependence of the working class on tourism and an old-fashioned modus operandi. The Mahjouba moped is therefore electric, which is in line with Morocco’s goal to achieve 50% of its national energy consumption from solar power by 2030.

At his studio Fenduq in Marrakesh, van Hove and his team of craftsmen have since 2016 made three moped prototypes. During the current exhibition at Vandalorum, a fourth is being developed in collaboration with artisans, engineers, small scale manufacturers, and multinationals.

An integrated part of The Mahjouba Initiative is testing a new socio-economic model where craft and its informal economy can be hybridized with the current capitalist mode of production. A central aspect of this work, is a series of annual think tanks where academics, economists, entrepreneurs, technicians, and art professionals brainstorm about distribution, accessibility, shared ownership, decentralized production etc. The next think tank will take place in Småland, Sweden, and we believe that you would be a valuable contributor. Approximately 20 people from various countries and disciplines will participate.

* Mahjouba is an old Arabic female name derived from the word ‘mahjoub’, which means ‘the veil placed over sacredness’. Its Oriental meaning isn’t what the West has made of it: the veil is foremost the promise of an unveiling. Van Hove has chosen this name as the goal of the Mahjouba Initiative is to unveil to Moroccans the true power of their craft legacy.