« The Sun and the Set », by Latifa Echakhch2 min
Until 16 August, BPS22 is hosting in Charleroi the first major museum exhibition on Belgian soil, dedicated to Latifa Echakhch, the recently appointed artist of the Swiss Pavilion at the 2022 Venice Biennale.
Taking into account the museum's architectural features, the Franco-Moroccan artist has created a tour composed of a succession of personal landscapes, as well as a series of image stops through 70 works - some designed for the occasion. An exhibition in the form of a retrospective, intended as a review of Latifa Echakhch's artistic career.
« The Sun and the Set », view from the exhibition
Born in 1974, Latifa Echakhch practises painting, sculpture, video and installation. She draws inspiration from her memories, the political events that marked her, literature, music and poetry. While the romantic landscapes of her childhood had a profound impact on her aesthetics and awareness, her formal vocabulary has been influenced by minimalism and art history from the 1960s to the 1970s.
Tour de Babel (Tour of Babel), 2010-2011
Having lived in Paris for several years, Latifa Echakhch now lives and works in Martigny in the Swiss Alps. Awarded the prestigious Marcel Duchamp Contemporary Art Prize in 2013 and the Zurich Art Prize in 2015, the artist has now gained international recognition. She is represented by the Kamel Mennour (Paris/London), Kaufmann Repetto (Milan/New York), Dvir (Tel Aviv/Brussels) and Metro Pictures (New York) galleries.
« The Sun and the Set », view of the exhibition
The title of the exhibition refers both to the sunset and to the artistic or theatrical set – the installation of a stage, the assembly of décor and objects defining a stage where action takes place. Latifa Echakhch has often used décor's potential for activation. The large painted curtains show landscapes at sunset, each linked to a personal story lived by the artist.
À chaque stencil une révolution (At Each Stencil A Revolution), 2007, Untitled (inking)
Here Latifa Echakhch covers picture rails with blue carbon leaves. The artist combines a reference to the Klein blue and ultramarine blue of romantic landscapes with the carbon blue of political leaflets. The title refers to Yasser Arafat’s words in the late 1960s to describe the sequence of global political and social demands.
Crowd Fade, 2017
The surface of this mural depicting a crowd of protesters carrying banners is heavily chipped – as if the buildings themselves are crumbling. In the context of anera marked by political, economic and environmental turbulence, the work suggests the loss of illusions and insecurity and instability, as well as the collapse of visions common to the whole of humanity.
Mer d’encre (Sea of Ink), 2012
This installation, composed of black bowler hats placed upside down and filled with black ink, refers to Magritte, Chaplin and the TV series Chapeau melon et bottes de cuir (Bowler Hat and Leather Boots). The work more broadly symbolises the figure of the poet and the creator, whose inks are ready to pour onto the floor to reveal shapes and words.
Sans titre (L_indépendante) / Untitled (L_independent), 2020
One of the key figures who defining Latifa Echakhch’s work, both implicitly and explicitly, is the ghost. In many of her works the artist is conspicuous by her absence. She always presents the remnants of an action that has taken place, which she provoked and executed herself, but that she has never put centre stage. The artist systematically obscures the presence of bodies in favour of the traces they have left.
Le thé de Saïd (Saïd’s Tea), 2010
A small theatre is prepared to take in rainwater from a gutter running along the roof of the BPS22 museum. Here Latifa Echakhch reproduces a habit attributed to her uncle Saïd, who has always fascinated her. Due to limited access to the water supply in Khouribga, Morocco, he used to place a teapot under the gutter of his house to fill it with water and then prepare his « special tea ».
Sans titre (Pole Dancer) / Untitled (Pole Dancer), 2011
Latifa Echakhch places items of costume and musical instruments on the floor, along with go-go dancer outfits. These costumes reveal the absence of the body, a concept that plays a major role in the artist’s work. Taken from their respective contexts, these objects are detached from their anecdotal content and their formal rigidity to preserve only the intensity of the allegorical statement.