WAYS OF SEEING
Mohamed Bourouissa: Documenting Marginal Realities
Mohamed Bourouissa’s solo show, ‘Strange Attractor,’ opened last Friday 29 at LaM - Lille Métropole Musée d’art moderne, and is on view until 21st January 2024. The exhibition presents works bearing witness to his practice of photography, drawing, sculpture and video, along with live performances and installations.
The exhibition’s enigmatic title refers to a mathematical formula and represents Bourouissa’s attempt to model the apparent incoherence of chaos. The artist questions the way marginalized individuals are depicted and analyzes the mechanisms of authoritarian power, while also examining their effects on communities deprived of their rights. Bourouissa casts a critical eye on society and its shortcomings. He puts the individual at the center of his concerns, revealing how the “system” denies the multiplicity of their identities. He goes beyond mere observation and shows how these individuals construct or reconstruct themselves.
Bourouissa’s artwork delves into the impact of structural power on immigrant bodies over multiple generations. Through a sustained level of violence, this power can demolish the body. The artist focuses on the link between current events, the mechanisms of empire, and the history of colonization as the source and fundamental form of control. Since his Périphérique series, which commenced around the time of the French riots in 2005, the artist has been exploring and clarifying these roots. In his new sculptures at Lille, he examines how the body is manipulated and controlled.
The artist presents a new one-person theatre piece, Quartier de femmes, at ‘Strange Attractor.’ The play examines the carceral state from the perspective of women and was created in collaboration with Zazon Castro, a writer, artist, and actress. Quartier de femmes was developed with inmates at a detention center for women in Lille and explores their experiences of being imprisoned. The play draws inspiration from the ancient Greek tragedy Antigone, which presents a woman’s struggle to navigate the complex boundaries of morality and justice. Although Quartier de femmes diverges significantly from Antigone, some elements from the original play have been retained.
The theatre piece continues Mohamed Bourouissa’s interest in combining documentation and formal composition, and his collaboration with others to create representations of reality on the margins of society. In addition, the works at the exhibition question the Bourouissa “method”, and his creative process, particularly with drawing as a research tool. The artist’s practice traces and presents the complexity of socio-economic issues through his distinct creative vision. Often spending long periods of time in social groups or communities that he is inspired by, creates films that blur the line between documentary and fiction. Bourouissa’s work is a poetic exploration of the complexities of life, with the aim of empowering those who are marginalized and excluded.