Back to Leo Africanus: a conversation between Mounir Ayache and Joan Grandjean

published in the exhibition catalog “Una linea storta tesa” 

Villa Medici, Rome, 10.6–6.8.23


Joan Grandjean wrote about Mounir Ayache’s latest art project, which he conceived during his fellowship in Villa Medici. His installation was inspired by Hassan al-Wazzan (1494-1555) who became Johannes Leo de Medicis under Pope Leo X, also known as “Leo Africanus,” the main character of the novel bearing his name written by Amin Maalouf in 1986. In 1525, at the request of the Pope, he wrote “La Cosmographia de Affrica,” which was to serve as a reference for describing sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa, and which would nourish the European imagination, for whom this region was unknown.
Taking the 1525 manuscript as a starting point, Ayache’s work consists of creating a science-fiction story set in the year 2500, in which the main character, inspired by Hassan al-Wazzan, recounts the exchanges between Africa and Europe, summoning up fictional geopolitical and ecological issues connected with the city of Rome. This story results in the production of a series of sculptures activating, by means of an augmented reality device, digital content that will be superimposed on reality.

More information here.