Unburden took place in the one room in Les Abattoir which was designated for the slaughter of pigs and has since 2000 remained derelict. The room was cleaned and turned into a Hammam/spa equipped with: a decorative fountain, a basin filled with water and sand from the Sahara, public towels, videos displaying a water fountain installed on a dune in the Sahara, and three major staples of Morocco’s diet and exports; salt, oranges, and olives. In the centre of the room was a large vinyl banner that advertised Pears soap, visually separating bathers from the entrance view of the space.
Visitors were invited to scrap the dead skin from their feet with salt, eat oranges and olives and discuss how notions of cleansing and whiteness have historical roots in colonialism in Morocco and its lingering effects on the contemporary society. Discussions initially centred on Pears’ use of ‘White Man’s Burden’ rhetoric and imagery in their ad campaigns at the turn of the century and its ideological linkages to notions of cleansing.
After several hours of discussion and indulgence in the oranges and olives people threw aside the vinyl banner of the Pears soap which was visually dividing the discussion space from the group of people watching from the entrance. After this image of colonialism was cast aside people began diving into the pool, slashing and throwing oranges, the clear waters of the basin mixed with the sand and became muddy, the floor was checkered with shoe prints and orange peels and olives were strewn about.
Unburden was actualized in collaboration with Felix Kalmenson.