Saturday, January 16, 2010

Seeing is Believing

"Seeing is believing" is the title of a solo show by mounir fatmi opening tonight at Galerie Hussenot, 5 bis, rue Haudriettes, in the 3rd. This eagerly anticipated exhibition is fatmi's first show with the gallery and his first solo show in Paris in nearly 2 years. "Seeing is believing" continues fatmi's exploration of the connectivity between large social structures such as architecture, religion, politics and art history,as well as the minute relationships found in everyday existence. This is perhaps most evident in a series of prints that line the wall with statements that read, "Minimalism is Capitalist," or "Futurism is Facist." They are semi-joeky but at the same time, imply other readings of classic art historical movements. The visual language of Russian constructivism, such as Malevitch's iconic "Black Square" is referenced in works such as the large square set high up on the wall, built from black VHS cassettes and in the video piece showing censored text of FBI files of interviews with the black panther's that has been reduced to the essential forms of black and white.

In a new piece titled "les assassins," about 80 hookhas are placed in the center of the room, their coils for smoking layed out for viewers to take a puff. The title comes from a historical link tracing the etymology of the word assassin-believed by many to come from the word hasish or Haschichiyoun, the name of people who smoked Hasish which was frequently smoked in the hookhas or the french word, nargile. This translation of the name was made popular in the West during the time of Marco Polo, although other readings exist inlcuding a link to the Assassiyoun, or those loyal to Assas, or the foundation of law. Whatever may be the case, the work is both beautiful and haunting and is purposely placed in view of a photograph from fatmi's latest (still in-progress) project, "Sleep," which spins the famous Andy Warhol film of John Giorno sleeping for 6 hours to show the author Salman Rushdie, a Warholian type personality most famous for once having a fatwa against him, in vulnerable repose and in view of "les assassins."

In all of fatmi's artwork and installations we are at first attracted by the graphic, aesthetic quality, but soon we get drawn into a deeper understanding of his intentions and the subversive nature of the work which always presents various layers of interpretation. The exhibition is on view through February 20.


Karen Dessent said...

Please bring this show to the Art Institute in Chicago!

Emilie said...

yeah! i get to come see it. can't wait - i'll be there feb. 1 - 5. will want to see you my dear...