Mounir Fatmi: Fragmented Memory
Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa25 May 2017 - 01 Jul 2017
Moroccan artist Mounir Fatmi’s thought-provoking exhibition, Fragmented Memory, runs at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg from 25 May to 1 July 2017. Based between Tangier and Paris, the renowned multimedia artist will present recent sculptures, reliefs, photographs and installations – including new work making its debut on the African continent.
A copy of the Koran.
A photograph of a Moroccan King.
A calligraphic painting.
These are the only cultural objects that mounir fatmi remembers from his childhood home in 1970s Tangier – all of which he was forbidden to touch or were positioned out of reach, but which vividly captured his imagination.
In Fragmented Memory mounir fatmi takes these objects as a starting point for his work ‘to show how the few elements of culture I had in my childhood home have shaped my artistic research, my aesthetic choices and my entire career,’ he says. fatmi adds that ‘through these objects, I draw a direct relationship to language, to memory, and to history in this show, because, for me, these three elements depend on one another: without language there is no memory and with no memory there is no history.’
Fragmented Memory expands on the artist’s objectives in his 2012 solo show at Goodman Gallery, Suspect Language – fatmi’s first with the gallery and in South Africa – in which he sought to construct
visual and linguistic games aimed at freeing viewers from their preconceptions of politics and religion. Then, as now, he intended to ‘aesthetically trap the viewer’, as he puts it, in order to prompt new ways of seeing these structures.
Following France’s polarising election, waves of anti-immigrant nationalism rising around the world, and many countries grappling with oppressive colonial legacies, it is significant that a Muslim artist of North African origin is showing his work at a South African gallery.
When Goodman director Liza Essers brought fatmi into the gallery’s stable, it was to facilitate a richer discourse on colonial histories in Africa and challenge the colonial construct of a Sub-Saharan Africa disconnected from its North African neighbours. The issues fatmi explores in his work – the fragmentation of cultural memory after colonialism, the complexities of a hybrid identity, the sometimes oppressive weight of religion and language – have resounding parallels for South African artists and others all over the world.
fatmi has exhibited at major museums, such as the Centre Georges Pompidou and the Victoria & Albert Museum, and will be included on the NSK State-in-Time Pavilion at the upcoming 57th Venice Biennale.