La maison rouge, Paris
Feb 18 – May 13, 2007
Using equestrian jumping poles, repainted in the colours of the star-spangled banner, mounir fatmi transforms the American flag into an immense impenetrable obstacle. This complex mass of red, white and blue poles, like a giant spillikins, takes up the patio space and towers like a sculpture that is both imposing, unstable and dangerous.
These obstacles recurs like a leitmotif in the artist's work. Each time they represent a new challenge to be taken up. I like America invites the spectator to go beyond the idea of the flag, territory and identity – all these limits that are constantly imposed on the artist and on anyone trying to overcome boundaries.
How can we get around these walls, that punctuate the history of relations between America, Europe and the rest of the world, like the one that is being planned between the United States and Mexico? Inspired by Jacques Derrida's deconstruction, mounir fatmi makes connections that disassemble, and dismantles things in order to create links, playing on multiple points of view. As you go around it, the giant obstacle reveals rifts and the image of the flag breaks up, like a mirror of a multi-faceted America.
I like America is both a tribute and a criticism. Formally it is reminiscent of architecture, Pop Art, Jasper Johns and everything that America has brought to the history of art. But the title refers to Joseph Beuys' famous performance in May 1974: I like America and America likes me.* When he arrived in New York, the German artist shut himself up in a gallery for four days with a coyote, the sacred animal of Native Americans. He then returned to Germany without having spoken to anyone. This performance, which took place in the midst of the Vietnam war, suggested a reconciliation between man and nature, between the oppressor and the oppressed.
mounir fatmi's 2007 installation, brings these themes up to date.
*This performance took place in New York from the 21 to the 25 May at the René Block Gallery. Joseph Beuys chose a coyote because it is the emblematic animal of Native Americans. He wanted to tame this symbol of a people wiped out in the name of progress, and reconcile nature and culture.
With the support of the Fundaciòn Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso Para El Arte