Curated by Silvia Cirelli, the exhibition Pandora's Box gathers together a wide selection of works never before exhibited in Italy, in an attempt to explore the versatility of a young performer who continues to surprise us with her polished, incisive aesthetics, intensely devoted to the difficult dynamics of the internal universe.
Known internationally for exhibitions at the Pompidou Centre or the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, Halida Boughriet likes to deal with issues relating to socio-cultural problems, identity, behaviour and geopolitics, not only those affecting the African world - with which she has close ties - but also those concerning current cultural history in general. Issues which are now, more than ever, causing instability, as a result of a sense of rootlessness, a lack of interpersonal communication and the need to "belong."
Using the body as the fundamental vehicle of expression, the artist stands out for her clear preference for particular forms of communication, which makes the performance the focal point. Reproduced with a series of photos, or simply documented on video, the performances presented in her works - which sometimes feature Boughriet herself - capture, according to the artist, the true power of emotional ambiguity. In a delicate balance, a mixture of beauty and suffering, flight and constraint, this young performer exposes the tensions of human behaviour, revealing its underlying fragility.
The central core of the exhibition is the series of photos Pandore (2014), which is also the inspiration for the title of the exhibition. Elegant interiors of Flemish inspiration, here reinterpreted in a contemporary way, reveal incredible mise en scènes in which a group of boys from the Parisian suburbs are the main protagonists. The sharp contrast between the sophistication of the immaculate setting and the incongruity of its visitors is further accentuated by their unnatural poses, clearly forcibly placed in a context where they do not belong.
The meticulous attention to staging detail is also seen in the series Corps de Masse (2013-2014), set in the enchanting rooms of the Museum of Art and History in Saint-Denis, France. The bodies of those in the shots - lit by an imaginative, intimate natural light to maintain their lyricism - move slowly and then unite into harmonious poses. The poses evoke the subjects of the paintings on display in the Museum's collection. Topics such as cultural memory and the importance of interpersonal cohesion are also central in the recent 2016 project Réflexion(s). This is a reinterpretation of the theory of the philosopher Leibniz which considers reality to be a mixture of perceptions - and indeed reflections - that must fuse together to create universal harmony. In this context, in Reflexion(s) the artist uses a mirror to involve the observer in the view of which "the other" is the protagonist: what the spectator sees is actually the reflection of what the photograph's subject is contemplating.
The exhibition continues with the video Autoportrait, in which the eyes of Boughriet herself literally become the mirror of painful collective memories; there is an incessant flow of images of war, destruction and suffering, which never seems to subside. The artist's body also gives "voice" to an unspoken anguish in the touching series Cri silencieux (2016) where the power of her silent cry, in the centre of the Square of Martyrs in Beirut, pushes the narrative to a really tense, perceptual level, making human emotions seem palpable.
For the opening, the gallery will host the performance Sans Titre (Afrique), which Halida Boughriet also staged at the Centre Pompidou in 2014. A sound composition created by the artist, based on music from Wagner's The Twilight of the Gods, Siegfried's Funeral March, will accompany the dancer Olga Totukhova as she dances on a carpet representing the map of Africa, particularly the continent's "hot spots"; those places in which there are ongoing wars and conflicts.
Halida Boughriet is a Franco-Algerian artist, born in Lens (France) in 1980. She currently lives and works in Choisy le Roi, France. She is a graduate of the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts in Paris and in 2005 she participated in an exchange program with the New York SVA, in the Cinema section.
She has numerous exhibitions in major international museums to her credit. This includes the Pompidou Centre, the MAC/VAL Museum (Musée d'Art contemporain du Val de Marne) and the Institut du Monde Arabe, in France; the Museum of Modern Art in Algiers; the Hood Museum in the USA and the Düsseldorf Kunst Museum and the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, in Germany. In 2014 she was selected for the Dak'Art Biennale; in 2015 and 2016 she took part in the Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin/Madrid.
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