A jack of all creative trades, Youssef El Idrissi has touched on all sorts of media to express himself. Cultural action manager, DJ, artistic engineer or researcher, there has been no limit to his experimentational curiosity. But what seems like the hectic journey of a bumbling bee actually has a very concrete purpose: to bring communities back together and allow each individual to reclaim his/her right to social and collective space. “I have long been involved in a number of collectives and groups focusing on music, philosophy, cultural production. But, when the February 20 movement happened, it kind of pushed me to explore even more the issue of public space and how people occupy it.”
Convinced that change can only happen in togetherness, Youssef works to encourage people to become proactive co-creators, making full use of their environment. “The issue of space is not just something theoretical. It is very much grounded in reality and impacts every aspect of life. This is why we need to reclaim our public spaces, and make them safe for people to exist in them.”
With Konaktif -a play on word meaning “Be Active”-, Youssef is conducting participatory research on “mental geographies” between Casablanca and Chefchaouen, using video art, stories and poetry. As part of his participation in the EU-funded All-Around Culture regional programme under the Youth-Led Initiative component, the project seeks to connect the two cities and find points of convergence, to understand how each citizen, artist and craftsperson approaches, appropriates and represents space. “Our goal is to catch attention and stimulate reflection. It is by developing their critical thinking that people will ultimately be able to reclaim their territory and their rights.”
The Youth-Led Cultural and Civic Initiatives (YLCCI) is one of ACC’s five components, implemented by the Tunisian not-for-profit organisation l’Art Rue. Started in April 2021, YLCCI aims to raise access to culture and start intercultural dialogue through the support to community-based collaborative and contextual artistic projects.
The project does so by promoting youth-led cultural and civic initiatives through 32 research and 24 production grants, collaborative laboratories as well as tailor made guidance and networking.