Mounir Fatmi (Morocco)
Photographic Art, Video Art & Wall painting
Born 1970, Tangier, Morocco, lives and works between Paris, Lille and Tangier.
mounir fatmi constructs visual spaces and linguistic games. His work deals with the desecration of religious objects, deconstruction and the end of dogmas and ideologies. He questions the world and plays with its codes and precepts under the prism of architecture, language and the machine.He is particularly interested in the idea of the role of the artist in a society in crisis. His videos, installations, drawings, paintings and sculptures bring to light our doubts, fears and desires. They directly address the current events of our world, and speak to those whose lives are affected by specific events and reveals its structure. Mounir Fatmi's work offers a look at the world from a different glance, refusing to be blinded by convention.
mounir fatmi's work has been shown in numerous solo exhibitions : in Mamco, Geneva, in the Migros Museum für Gegenwarskunst, Zürich, Switzerland, at the Picasso Museum, war and peace, Vallauris, at the FRAC Alsace, Sélestat, at the Contemporary Art Center Le Parvis, at the Fondazione Collegio San Caro, Modena, at the AK Bank Foundation in Istanbul, at the Museum Kunst Palast in Duesseldorf and at the MMP+, in Marrakesh.
He participated in several collective shows at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris,The Brooklyn Museum, New York, N.B.K., Berlin, at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, MAXXI, Rome, Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, Museum on the Seam, Jerusalem, Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Moscow, Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, the Hayward Gallery, London, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven.
His installations have been selected in biennials such as the 52nd, the 54th and the 57th Venice Biennial, the 8th biennial of Sharjah, the 5th and 7th Dakar Biennial, the 2nd Seville Biennial, the 5th Gwangju Biennial and the 10th Lyon Biennial, the 5th Auckland Triennial, Fotofest 2014, Houston, the 10th and 11th Bamako Encounters as well as the 7th Biennale of Architecture in Shenzhen.
Mounir Fatmi was awarded by several prize such as the Cairo Biennial Prize in 2010, the Uriöt prize, Amsterdam, the Grand Prize Leopold Sedar Senghor of the 7th Dakar Biennial in 2006 as well and he was shortlisted for the Jameel Prize of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London in 2013.
Walking on the light
Walking on the Light - Gobo light projection
“Walking on the Light” is a series of photographs created from the luminous and kinetic installation “Technologia” (2012), where 25 circular images were projected on a bridge in Toulouse. The spectators could walk freely between them and were encouraged to engage in the contemplation of the lights projected onto the ground. The work was inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s rotoreliefs and associated them with Arab calligraphy and the words of the prophet Muhammad.
The photographs show the spectators walking among the projections on the ground. They are the only ones the artist had the time to take before a series of unexpected events led to the suspension of the public exhibit and it was eventually censored. Everything started when a female spectator stepped, voluntarily or not, on one of the projections – a gesture that was immediately interpreted as blasphemy by other spectators present that day and led to religious protests in the city.
“Walking on the Light” questions the problematic relation of the audience with the work and explores this particular moment that preceded a tipping point leading to a failure to understand the work by a fraction of the public and its reaction of rejection, as well as the diversion of the artist’s intentions. In a way, it examines the conditions of a chemical reaction: it lists the elements and the potential catalyzers and describes their configuration just before the reaction happens. The proposition alludes to the event that triggered the protests and the censorship, as well as to the humorous comment left by mounir fatmi on a sign in the installation: “Please do not walk on the work”. “Walking on the Light” is a polysemous proposition which can be perceived in a poetic, childish or mystical way. It reflects an almost evident physical impossibility. It echoes a form of sensory and poetic experience that expresses itself in metaphors. The light can be evocative of religious mysticism, where it would be the symbol of God himself. It can also reference knowledge of a secular nature. And of course, lights are an essential element in the field of staging and show production…
The first photograph of the series shows two motionless male individuals near a luminous circle. One of them, standing on the edge, is illuminated by a projector, whereas the other, standing back, remains in the dark. This photograph is particular in the sense that it very distinctly shows two graphic motifs with international references – religious verses and the logo of a sportswear brand. Out of pure coincidence, religion and consumerism appear in the same scene and the power of their iconography over individuals and consciences can be evoked, analyzed and compared…
Finally, “Walking on the Light” offers a still image giving off an effect of suspense and dramatization. Does this image precede a scene of mystical revelation? Will the spectators walk further into the light or will they safely stay on the edge of the circles, not daring to go any further? The suspense is also of another kind: the photographs suspend the interactions between significations and the chain of cause and consequence. They bring up a critical moment and could be perceived as a form of provocation, but in reality they reaffirm the openness of the signification of works of art, which authorizes any interpretation and all forms of questioning.
Studio Fatmi, April 2017.
Casablanca Circles - Photography & Drawings
Casablanca Circles is a series of drawings done on photographs taken from an excerpt from the movie Casablanca of the final kiss Bogart and Bergman. The tangent circles of Descartes and Soddy are drawn on the pictures of the two main characters as they move closer to kiss.
This infinity of circles raises the viewer's desire and at the same time, project our hope to see both actors united. Although the movie refers to the Moroccan city Casablanca, occupied by the french government of Vichy during the WWII, all the sets have been built in Hollywood. Those two lives, the real and the fictional, of the city disorient even the Moroccans and push the tourists to look for the Rick's Café and the other locations of the movie during their stay.
The story of the movie is about an impossible love surrounded in clichés of spying and exoticism. During the war, a couple escape the Nazis and land in Morocco in order to get the papers to join the United States. Their only contact and their only hope is the former lover of the woman. Beyond fiction and maths, mounir fatmi wants to make us believe that something is still possible.
«(...) There is something analogous to this scientific and fictional proliferation in fatmi’s work, in his use of different supports, in his back and forth movements between different themes, his outlined, reprised or abandoned narratives. In a way, we could say that he appropriates the enigmatic discovery of a form of energy that seems inexhaustible but also uncontrollable – except that in his case the subject is a metaphorical equivalent of the nuclear, namely, desire and the irresistible attraction that it triggers. But then is the difference really so great? What matters, indeed, in both instances, is the moment of unleashing, the moment that is not a moment, between the before and the after – an imminence, you might say, that is to say, a time-space without real consistency, without real duration. What comes next is a form of unfolding, with its options and possible narrative trajectories. Before the reaction is triggered, before the lips touch and nothing is the same as before. Such is the kiss in the works of the “Casablanca Circles” series. It is a catastrophe, a rupture, the almost unassignable moment whereby everything changes. The beauty of the thing is that this around this impalpable non-moment so many expectations and narrative possibilities are precipi- tated. Countless underground connections appear, crossovers, secret coincidences, so that in this work there hovers a subtle perfume of paranoia.(...)"
Régis Durand, March 2014.