Mounir Fatmi

Born (1970) in Tangier, Morocco. He lives and works in Paris and Tangier. He constructs visual spaces and linguistic games that aim to free the viewer from their preconceptions. 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 reveal its structure. His work deals with the desecration of religious object, deconstruction and the end of dogmas and ideologies. He is particularly interested in the idea of death of the subject of consumption. This can be applied to antenna cables, copier machines, VHS tapes, and a dead language or a political movement. Although aesthetically very appealing, Mounir Fatmi's work offers a look at the world from a different glance, refusing to be blinded by the conventions. Mounir Fatmi's work has been exhibited at the: Migros Museum für Gegenwarskunst (Zürich, Switzerland), Museum Kunst Palast (Düsseldorf, Germany), the Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris, France), the Mori Art Museum (Tokyo Japan). He has participated in several biennials, among them the 52nd Venice Biennial, the 2nd Seville Biennial, Spain, the 8th biennial of Sharjah and the 10th Biennial of Lyon. In 2008, his work is featured in the program Paradise Now! Essential French Avant-Garde Cinema 1890-2008 at the Tate Modern in London as well as in the exhibition Traces du Sacré, at the Centre Georges Pompidou, in Paris. Since 1993, he was awarded by several prize such as the Grand Prize at the 7th Dakar Biennial in 2006 and the Uriöt Prize, Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam. He receives the Cairo Biennial Prize in 2010.

 

Mounir Fatmi's work develops gradually according to a rhizomatic system of values, where the inscription is like a network of opinions and connections. With his critical view on contemporary realities and illusions, he states that the only way to read his work is in the context of complexities and, at times, of confusion as to the ways to approach it. His works create even more interpretations in the semantic layers which connect all the areas of thinking to one another. He is engaged in the aesthetic and the formal, the political and the sociological, the economic and the ethical, the metaphysical and the religious.

Videotapes, antenna cables, protective helmets: these technical materials, simple and common, are transformed and recreated into plastic vocabulary. The practice is not limited to a transference à la Marcel Duchamp; instead they play on the double registers of the semantics and the metaphor in the way they are and in the way they represent. Mounir Fatmi’s work depicts strategies that fail.

 His works are harmless objects, changed into critical bombs directed towards the mechanisms which guide our illusory relationship to the world, individual ideologies, contemporary architecture or economics, politics or in the understanding of modernity as a part of the fascination with the invisible. While they comprise moments of art history, they also question the transference of knowledge, the suggestive power of pictures in the maelstrom of the media, the seduction of violence and the critical power of deconstruction, utopias as well as the oppressive influence of history or architecture on individual lives.

Mounir Fatmi always confronts an "untimely" (Gilles Deleuze) history with the totalizing one; he always prefers knowledge and truth, books and words to religion. In a plastic vocabulary that oscillates between minimalism and the aesthetics of density and tangling, a system of semiotic hypotheses is constructed within a methodical volatility. Instability means for Mounir Fatmi risk, crisis and tension between two opposites, everything at one and the same time. We are witnessing a permanent state of insecurity where every certainty can be deconstructed and where there is neither centre nor transcendence. Through this vision of basic human imperfection, the necessity to fight, to dialogue and to get engaged is confirmed. Mounir Fatmi's work is an eternally conscious action and opposition to all forms of determinism, totalitarianism and every attempt at breaking down individualism. To exist is to oppose since life basically is a subversive power.

 

Paris, January 2009

Photos

Technologia, 2010 Video installation, duration: 15΄ Courtesy the artist and Galerie Hussenot, Paris

Untitled (12th Istanbul Biennial), 2011 Biennale de Lyon