« We hope that by supporting and encouraging the students in their creative decision-making we will give them this opportunity – the opportunity of learning to look.” Susanna Biedermann
From painting to interior design, graphic design and photography, Susanna Biedermann’s rich and inspiring artistic work led her to establish a unique visual arts school in the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa. The heritage of her work is not only felt within the walls of ESAV, but also in Dar Bellarj (foundation for living culture) in the Medina of Marrakech, or through the people who had the opportunity to know her and who still pursue today the fulfillment of her dreams and ambitions.
It is highly recommended to discover a part of her work, carefully recorded in the book Susanna Biedermann, Learning to lookwhich retraces in images, testimonies and interviews the main lines of her life.
Susanna Biedermann and her husband Max Alioth, both originally from Switzerland, were convinced of the important role that visual arts have in supporting social change. Always motivated by the curiosity for other cultures and the spirit of openness, dialogue and exchange, Susanna and Max founded the Susanna Biedermann Foundation (FSB) in 1998. They then founded Dar Bellarj and ESAV, these institutions are at the same time places of artistic training but also cultural platforms for actors of the city of Marrakech. The FSB’s mission is to support the emergence of new talents and professionals in the field of cinema and visual communication. The aim is also to raise public awareness of the value of the Moroccan tangible and intangible heritage in all its diversity, being at the same time Arab, Amazigh, Andalusian, African and Mediterranean. In other words, the FSB Foundation intends to be rooted in tradition and open to contemporary creation.
The philosophy of the Graduate School of Visual Arts of Marrakech is based on two principles, and described by Vincent Melilli director of the school as follows: “First, to build a School of art where the emphasis is on learning “to look”. Secondly, to orient education towards future-oriented professions with high potential for economic development in Morocco”. For the founders of the school it was also very important to ensure, that access to the school was above all based on the criteria of fairness and excellence. The school is open for international dimensions, always with the aim of creating a framework for intercultural exchange and dialogue and social diversity.
The Graduate School of Visual Arts of Marrakech was founded and financed by the Susanna Biedermann Foundation (FSB), in partnership with the Cadi Ayyad University of Marrakech, it has a non-profit mission. The Susanna Biedermann Foundation has invested nearly 60 million dirhams (about 6 million euros) for the construction of the school and its equipment. It continues to finance the operation of the school and thus guarantees a demand for pedagogical excellence. It expects no return on its investment, and therefore a limited liability company under Moroccan law was created. The capital is distributed as follows: 80% for the Susanna Biedermann Foundation (Switzerland) and 20% for the Cadi Ayyad University of Marrakech. The Cadi Ayyad University of Marrakech gave ESAV the opportunity to acquire the right to lease, for forty years, a piece of public land that it had used. At the end of this lease, the school premises and equipment will be returned to the Moroccan State. Currently, this school, unique in the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa, hosts around 120 to 150 students from all the continent in the two specialized departments, the world of image: film and audiovisual and graphic and digital design.