Untangling Threads

Contact: Alia Kate Email: info@kantaracrafts.com Website: www.kantaracrafts.com Blog: www.blog.kantaracrafts.com

Female Artisans in Morocco’s Rug Weaving Industry
Anna Beeke • Photographer Alia Kate • Fair Trade Activist


New York, NY (4/14/10) - In June 2010, photographer Anna Beeke will collaborate with fair trade activist, Alia Kate to undertake a photojournalism project of Moroccan women weavers who have single-handedly maintained their age-old craft of indigenous weaving. This project will document the lives and stories of these rural women who have recently begun to participate in local and global markets. It will focus upon four rural weaving villages as well as track the rural-to-urban journey of the carpets—from the laborious weaving process in the villages, through transactions with middlemen at weekly rug markets, to their eventual sale in touristy and glitzy urban carpet bazaars. While Morocco is known for being a liberal Muslim country with tourist-friendly cities, such as Marrakech and Fez, in the countryside Muslim women weavers have no contact with those who ultimately buy their products. Unfortunately, because of the women’s lack of mobility and access to the business world, urban middlemen have taken advantage of the isolated nature of their rural social structure. By controlling the demand of carpets, these intermediaries obtain the carpets for a fraction of what their market value should be, only to resell them at high-priced urban markets. With the prices offered by these middlemen, the artisans are barely able to pay for their materials, let alone receive compensation for their time and creativity. This market dynamic affects not only the women but also their families as it perpetuates the cycle of poverty and child labor in rural Morocco. By joining forces, Beeke and Kate aim to do two things: expose the underlying problems of the carpet market as it currently exists in Morocco, and celebrate women artisans in Morocco who—despite cultural and logistical barriers—still manage to produce beautiful, high-end, and coveted carpets. Beeke is a graduate of the International Center of Photography’s 2009 Photojournalism and Documentary Photography program. She has attended photography workshops in the Czech Republic and Finland and was selected as a participant in the 2009 Eddie Adams Workshop. She has traveled extensively, and she visited Morocco for the first time in 2007 with Alia Kate, the founder of Kantara Crafts, a fair trade rug importing business. Having lived in Morocco for more than a year and a half, Kate has extensive experience in rural Moroccan village life as well as a solid relationship with the artisans that will be photographed in this project, both of which she writes about extensively through Kantara’s blog, {from} Warp {to} Weft: Moroccan Rugs Revealed (www.blog. kantaracrafts.com).
### If you’d like more information about this topic or to schedule an interview with either Anna Beeke or Alia Kate, please email Alia at info@kantaracrafts.com

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