Water is the wisdom with which the trees birth their small flowers.
As water is perhaps the most essential compound for life to exist, understanding its effect on human history is also essential in understanding contemporary societies, cultures, and the places we have fashioned for ourselves to dwell in. Water is not only interesting from the point of view of development (the importance of which cannot be overstated), but also from the point of view of urban culture. What urban practices to we owe to this resource? How is water bound with spirituality, labor, and aesthetics? In the Fez medina one finds a dense medieval urban tissue where all of these categories of analysis are observable.
Whether we drink it, use it to wash our clothes, or use it as a symbol in esoteric rituals, water has made an enormous impact on our cultures. Its scarcity in some places today, and mismanagement or abuse of water in others both present real challenges to human progress. However, to communicate this problem to increasingly interconnected publics, perhaps focusing on water’s cultural and ritual value rather than the broad systemic problems facing it is a better approach to saving this vital resource. Perhaps giving water cultural value through film and other art forms is a better way to encourage sustainable practice.
‘Les eaux cachées’ aims to tell the story of Fez’s waters, the cultural practices surrounding them, and those who aim to save it for future generations.