This season, two back-to-back performances are scheduled in honor of the Franco-Algerian, one of the most esteemed artists of his generation: the first at LaM, close to Lille, and the second at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. In addition to well-known works from his early years, like the video Temps Mort, which he co-created with a prisoner, this two-part exhibition event includes brand-new pieces, such as the world premiere of his first play, Les Femmes.
You immediately get the impression from Franco-Algerian artist Mohamed Bourouissa that a traditional retrospective wouldn’t be appropriate. “I think my pieces are never really finished,” he responds, evading questions regarding the possibility of two consecutive solo shows at significant French art institutions. Instead, he deals with metamorphoses or even metempsychoses as a means of avoiding the embalming inclinations of museums. Attracteur étrange (Strange Attractor), the title of his debut exhibition, blends “remixed” previous pieces with brand-new works and opens on September 29 at LaM, near Lille.
Naturally, all his best-known songs are included, including those that helped him become prominent in the latter part of the 2000s, including Temps Mort, which he directed in 2008–09 while still a Le Fresnoy film student. Co-created with a prisoner named Al, it includes images of the ordinary nuances of life inside that we don’t often see, taken by the artist using his mobile phone (which wasn’t yet “smart” back then). The following rooms include more career highlights, some of which may surprise you with the sheer quantity of drawings on display—series pieces in tense graphite or flowing watercolor. Next are the works that change over time. For example, the installation Les Oiseaux de Paradis was started in 2013 at the Tenth Liverpool Biennial under the title The Whispering of Ghosts. The same year, it was renamed Pas le temps pour les regrets at the Marcel Duchamp Prize exhibition. Since then, it has persisted in using metempsychoses as a sounding board for unsettling inquiries concerning the Algerian mental health facility Blida-Joinville, the author and psychiatrist Frantz Fanon, and the possibility of mental colonization.
Material control, immaterial control: if Attracteur étrange weren’t followed by a second chapter scheduled to debut in Paris’s Palais de Tokyo in February 2024, the antagonism would seem direct and pointless. “The second show has a more conceptual dimension because I really conceived it in the manner of an LP,” says Bourouissa, “whereas the first show is rather classic in form.” “I want guests to experience the Palais de Tokyo as if they are inside an album.” Indeed, he has ushered in a new age in his work by utilizing sound—precisely, its healing aspect. “I’ve begun using sound to sculpt space; music, or simply sound pieces, are now a leitmotif in my work.”
Bourouissa is thinking about the length and how to connect the arts of space and time today, partly due to a new endeavor that occupied him for the whole previous year and whose outcomes were also revealed this autumn. That is theater. “Theatre is a little different from what I’ve been doing before. Since time is a fact and is essential to its growth, this influenced my approach to the show. The play in question, Quartier de femmes, was co-written with Zazon Castro and directed by Bourouissa. It sprang from writing workshops he conducted with women’s goals in mind. The work, which is a female prisoner’s monologue, made its premiere on October 1 at LaM.
- Franco-Algerian artist Mohamed Bourouissa presents a unique two-part exhibition event, blending remixed previous works with new pieces, including the world premiere of his first play, “Les Femmes.”
- The debut exhibition, titled “Attracteur étrange,” opens at LaM near Lille, featuring well-known works like the video “Temps Mort,” created with a prisoner, alongside surprising displays of drawings and evolving installations.
- Bourouissa’s second show at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, scheduled for February 2024, takes on a more conceptual dimension, resembling an LP, with a focus on the healing aspect of sound as a new element in his artistic expression.
- The artist expands his creative horizon by delving into theater, co-writing and directing the play “Quartier de femmes,” a female prisoner’s monologue that premiered at LaM, showcasing his exploration of the intersection between space, time, and the arts.