In one sense, the exhibition’s title asks us to “measure the distance” that separates France and the populations of the African continent. In francophone poetry and literature, the term “ardent” conjures up an all-consuming, burning love, while in other popular expressions it refers to the impatience—and sometimes even violence—that reigns in certain situations. Several artists in the exhibition are interested in the idea of “invisible bodies". Mustapha Akrim has created an installation focused on the work of manual labourers and their relationship with collective history. Drawing on the social realities of Moroccan life, his work creates “construction sites” that explore issues such as memory. Crumpled into balls or hung out in lines, military uniforms are the medium used by artist Mohamed Arejdal to highlight the shared history that connects the African continent with France. Diadji Diop examines the links between part and present in works that seek to reactivate the memory of soldiers from former colonies. Realistic figures defy physical and temporal boundaries, passing through walls and floors. His work is a call for dialogue, for a sharing of experiences beyond skin colour.
Far removed from the reductive debates that dominate the political sphere, geographers explore the diversity of migrants’ journeys. Whether land, sea or narrative, routes of exile have left deep marks in our shared history, a world apart from the bucolic images of the desert or the blue waters of the Mediterranean. With her sculpture of brass threads that extends across space, Zainab Andalibe examines notions of geography, movement, displacement, coming and going, trajectories and searching. Khalil Nemmaoui works with the idea of transhumance, the natural precursor to what we today refer to as immigration. Whether for survival or for conquest, humans have always moved around, just like other living creatures. At Mrac Occitanie, Fatiha Zemmouri has reproduced a “piece” of desert, with immaculate sand dunes, to represent the order and perfection of a place that resists the influence of modernity, where the wind permanently erases every trace and trajectory of civilisation. Finally, Hassan Bourkia immerses visitors in a dense, saturated space where he pays tribute to the various populations that lived in the Rivesaltes internment camp in France between 1938 and 1970.
The exhibition’s final theme celebrates what we share and hold dear today, the diversity that is the fruit of our reciprocal attraction. The grand paintings by Mariam Abouzid Souali are an invitation to share and acknowledge a common history. Distancing her work from the stereotypes of different cultures fabricated by social media, the artist seeks to downplay the importance of our current era, marked as it is by profound changes that are a source of both individual and collective anxiety. Multi-disciplinary artist Hicham Ayouch presents a new film entitled Peau Aime [Skin Love]. The film is an introspective quest, a journey into the artist’s past and his own personal neuroses, exploring body and skin colour as markers of identity that define and confine. For Simohammed Fettaka, the individual visual experience should lead us to revisit “our sense of ourselves”. To this end, he appropriates and repurposes sacred images, symbols, objects and situations specific to Moroccan culture. His work calls into question political aesthetics and the way in which reality is constructed around iconic images. Finally, Moataz Nasr adopts an elegant, poetic approach as a keen observer of the profound transformations affecting the modern world, his numerous references to traditional culture underlining the need to share and recognise a common history.
The Ardent Distance exhibition, which is complemented by a varied cultural programme exploring the music, poetry, cinema and wine of North Africa, invites all visitors—African, French and those from elsewhere—to remember the past so that we can learn to understand each other and forge new connections unblemished by the past.
Artists : Mariam Abouzid Souali, Mustapha Akrim, Zainab Andalibe, Mohamed Arejdal, Hicham Ayouch, Hassan Bourkia, Diadji Diop, Simohammed Fettaka, Moataz Nasr, Khalil Nemmaoui, Fatiha Zemmouri
Curator : Hicham Daoudi
The exhibition « Ardent distance » is presented as part of the Africa2020 Season.
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