mounir fatmi
Keitelman Gallery, Brussels

A Savage Mind, 2016


A Savage Mind

Keitelman Gallery

December 09, 2016 - March 24, 2017


At the end of the year, the Keitelman Gallery has the honor of opening the second solo exhibition of the artist mounir fatmi, whose international renown steadily continues to grow. The exhibition presents a body of work (sculptures, photographs, and drawings) that address several themes dear to the artist: Confrontation between cultures, unfortunately often taking place in the form of violence, the subject of language and knowledge, and even the relationship between said knowledge and so-called ignorance. The questions that are posed around these themes manifest into forms that embody all the ambiguities of the time. Some of the implicit queries whispered throughout the wo,rks are these: How does the meeting between the one who "can do" and one who "knows how to speak of what is done" play out? Or, what is the relationship between the people who make up society on a daily basis and those who govern it? In other words: what is the relationship between a craftsman (the who does) and a machine (an engineered product that synthesizes, and thus simplifies thought and expertise)? In this exhibition and in the work of fatmi in general, it is as if a comparison has already been made, but is never fully at rest between the duo consisting of the "savage” and the “scholar."

The three-part work Roots reveals a drawing made of antenna cables. The pattern seen is reminiscent of Arab-Islamic art that has developed throughout history in the field of abstraction as religion forbade the representation of the human figure. Nevertheless, this work is a tribute to the architect, the handyman, and to all the anonymous individuals that create the status quo.

Like all of fatmi’s sculptural work, Roots is an aesthetic trap. The eye becomes desperately lost as it searches for a beginning, an end, a center, an exit... During this moment in history when the notions of identity and boundaries come more into focus and are reflected by extremes, the Roots sculpture functions as a projection screen. Visitors may project their fears and hopes, and may question their place in this world.

At first glance the work is very aesthetic and complex. However, it attempts to answer a philosophical question posed by the artist: how deep do these roots actually travel?

The Journey of Claude Lévi-Strauss, embroidery of the cover art from Claude Lévi-Strauss’ “The Savage Mind,” a classic book of anthropology. Embroidery handmade by an artisan, the subject of study is the savant ... Who knows what to do? Who knows what to believe? One of the principal lessons learned from the French anthropologist is that the savage is not quite who you think. Thus came about the study of the supposedly primitive Indians. He found that they had a much greater knowledge of their environment than he could have possessed: names of plants, birds, flowers, trees ... A plethora of things that he did not know. "It is the encounter with the other that reveals our primitive nature," says mounir fatmi, which suggests how the perception of migration is changing in terms of the individuals involved; individuals who possess experience and knowledge that we do not.

Unfortunately, as we know, the people and governments of Europe have not adopted this stance during this time when it is more a question of rejection than anything else. These two pieces evoke this rejection as well as the paradox of creating danger by wanting to protect oneself. The work entitled Defence emulates the metal structures we build around the periphery in order to protect ourselves from the intrusion of thieves, while offering an image of a black sun; a symbolic expression of a star that cools the heart instead of bringing it warmth. Dead Language installation expresses all the violence felt when one must abandon everything at border crossings, starting with one’s language; the very first conveyence of a person’s identity.

The piece entitled Archaeology, meanwhile, also showcases one of the grim realities of our time. A broom, bones, a black flag ... It can be an evocation of the new iconoclasts that destroy ancient archeological sites. It is as though they kill the dead again. We once again see those who must do the "dirty work," like the soldier on the battlefield, the customs officer in the Mediterranean Sea, or the doctor in charge of collecting drowned corpses... all of those individuals who, for better or worse, have the task of facing the aftermath of decisions made in high places ... Order and its execution; the reality of the law of the land. Here is where we find the duality, intimitely entwined, that fascinates mounir fatmi.

Finally, this exhibition also contains some of the artist’s rare drawings. Intimate and fragile, this series of drawings with their primitive aesthetic brings us back to the beginning of the artist's work. We can see these drawings as a return to "the root" of the practice of an artist who strives never to lose sight of the essential humility of creation which is, probably more than any other philosophy, political thought, or religion, the true guarantor of society and evolution.


Expositions personnelles I Solo shows (selection)
Ceysson & Bénétière 2019Wilde Gallery 2019CDAN Museum 2018
Göteborgs Konsthall 2018Art Front Gallery 2017Officine dell'Immagine 2017
Galerie De Multiples 2017Analix Forever Gallery 2017Jane Lombard Gallery 2017
Galerie Delacroix 2017Goodman Gallery 2017Lawrie Shabibi 2017
Analix Forever Gallery 2017Maisons des Arts du Grütli 2017ADN Platform 2016
Keitelman Gallery 2016Labanque 2016MMP+ 2016
MAMCO 2015MIAMIBUS 2015Analix Forever 2015
CCC Tours 2014ADN Galeria 2014ADN Platform 2014
Analix Forever 2014Yvon Lambert 2014Museum Kunst Palast 2013
Keitelman Gallery 2013Paradise Row 2013Institut Français de Casablanca 2013
Galerie Fatma Jellal 2013Analix Forever 2013Goodman Gallery 2012
Shoshana Wayne Gallery 2012 Lombard-Fried Projects 2012Galerie Conrads 2011
Fondazione Collegio San Carlo 2011Galerie Hussenot 2011AKBank Sanat 2011
Galerie Hussenot 2010Galerie Conrads 2009FRAC Alsace 2009
Galerie Delacroix IFM 2008Creux de l'enfer 2008Galerie Ferdinand van Dieten 2007
Musée national Pablo Picasso 2007Shoshana Wayne Gallery 2007La maison rouge 2007
Lombard Freid projects 2007Bank galerie 2006CAC d'Istres 2005
Espace des arts Colomiers 2004 CAC Le Parvis 2004Migros museum 2003
Biennales & Triennales I Biennials, Triennials (selection)
13eme Biennale de Dakar 20187th Echigo Tsumari Art Triennale 20181er Biennale de Rabat 2018
57th Venice Biennale 20177eme Biennale d'Architecture de Shenzhen 201711eme Biennale de Bamako 2017
15eme Biennale d'art contemporain Alios! 2017Biennale Poznan 2016Setouchi Triennale 2016
10èmes Rencontres de Bamako 20155th Thessaloniki Biennale 201516th Media art Biennale Wro 2015
1st Trio Biennale, Rio de Janeiro 20152nd Bodrum Biennial 2015Fotofest Biennial 2014
5th Auckland Triennial 201310th Dakar Biennial 2012 White House Biennial 2013
Manif d'Art 6 20123rd Thessaloniki Biennial 201111th Lyon Biennial 2011
54th Venice Biennial 2011XIIth Cairo Biennial 20101st Mediterranean Biennial of Haifa 2010
Port Izmir 2, international triennial of contemporary art 20108th Dakar Biennial 2010Biennale Cuvée 2010
Xth Lyon Biennial 2009Art Tel Aviv 20098èmes Rencontres de Bamako 2009
1st Brussels Biennial 2008Pontevedra Biennial 200824th Biennial Memorial of Nadezda Petrovic 2007
1st Luanda Triennial 2007 52th Venice Biennial 20078th Sharjah Biennial 2007
2nd Seville Biennial 2006 Gwangju biennial 2004 7th Dakar Biennial 2006
4th Dakar Biennial 20007th Biennal Art Media 1999
Expositions collectives I Group shows (selection)
Maison Populaire 2019Bedford Gallery 2019 Evliyagil Museum 2019
Jane Lombard 2019James Cohan 2019Mathaf 2018
MACAAL 2018Fondation Boghossian 2018Sammlung Philara 2018
Nasher Museum of Art 2018Ellen Noël Art Museum 2018Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea 2018
MOCAK 2018Bozar Center for fine arts 2018Philharmonie de Paris 2018
The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery 2018Goodman Gallery 2018Institut Français de Saint Louis 2018
Pensacola Museum of Art 2018 Von der Heydt-Kunsthalle 2018Gifu Museum 2017
Huntsville Museum of Art 2017Bandjoun Station 2017Institut des Cultures d’Islam 2017
Bellevue Arts Museum 2017Mudac 2017Primo Marella Gallery 2017
Goodman Gallery 2017MACAAL 2017Museum De Wieger 2017
Conrads Gallery 2017Galerie Ceysson & Bénétière 2017Keitelman Gallery 2017
Musée du Pays de Hanau 2017Château de Servières 2017CEAA 2017
Fondazione Fotografia Modena 2017H&R Block Artspace 2017Bedford Gallery 2016
Beijing Today Art Museum 2016Hôtel des Arts 2016Museum of Old and New Art 2016
Labanque 2016Les Photaumnales 2016Al Maaden 2016
Kunsthalle Faust 2016Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain de Strasbourg 2016Archives Nationales 2016
Bardo National Museum 2016Arles 2016Musée d'Art Moderne de Troyes 2016
Rotor 2016Goodman Gallery 2016Musée Bartholdi 2016
Institut d’Art Contemporain 2016Santander Art Gallery 2016Brandts & Viborg Kunsthal 2016
Fondazione VIDEOINSIGHT 2015A Tale of a Tub 2015Contemporary Istanbul 2015
ADMAF 2015Goodman Gallery 2015Keitelman Gallery 2015
Galeria Municipal do Porto 2015Fabra i Coats 2015AMOCA 2015
Monastère Royal de Brou 2015CAC La Traverse 2015FRAC Franche-Comté 2015
ZKM 2015The National Library 2015Station 2015
La FabriC - Fondation Salomon 2015Van Abbemuseum 2015The Brooklyn Museum 2015
MMP+ 2015Sharjah Museum 2015Kamel Lazaar Foundation 2015
Sextant & + 2015Gwangju Museum of Art 2014QAGOMA 2014
N.B.K. 2014CAyT Centro de Arte y Technologia 2014Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery 2014
Station 2014Institut du Monde Arabe 2014Art Gallery of Western Australia 2014
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art 2014Palais de Tokyo 2014L'art dans les chapelles 2013
MAD Museum 2013Marseille - Provence 2013V&A Museum 2013
30 ans des FRAC 2013MAC Marseille 2013MAXXI 2013
Museu de Arte Moderna de Salvador de Bahia 2012Institut du Monde Arabe 2012Edge of Arabia 2012
Apexart 2012B.P.S. 22 2012Dorsky Gallery 2012
International Center of Graphic Arts 2012Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art 2011Fondation Blachère 2011
Brooklyn Museum 2011Dublin Contemporary 2011Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts 2011
Museum on the Seam 2011Tri Postal Lille 2011Meeting Point 6 2011
The New School 2010Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil 2010Fondazione Fotografia Modena 2010
Aargauer Kunsthaus 2010KAdE 2010Kunst Museum Bochum 2010
Moscow museum of modern art 2010Art Gallery of Ontario 2010Fondation Gulbenkian 2009
Centro de Arte de Santa Monica 2009Beirut Art Center 2009Salina Art Center 2009
Kunstverein Medienturm Ilz 2008Te Papa museum 2008Studio Museum Harlem 2008
Haus der Kunst 2008Centre Pompidou 2008CAAM 2008
Centro de Arte de Santa Monica 2008Johannesburg Art Gallery 2007CAC Le Parvis 2006
CAPC musée d'art contemporain 2006Bank Galerie 2006Les Abattoirs 2006
Moderna museet 2006Mori art museum 2006Wereldmuseum 2005
Centre Pompidou 2005The Stenersen Museum 2005Saw gallery 2005
Konstmuseum 2005Hayward Gallery 2005Museum Kunst Palast 2004
Tri Postal Lille 20042nd international contemporary art meeting 2003Espacio C 2002
O.N.A. Foundation 1999CAC Castres 1999Musée des beaux-arts de Dôle 1999
Musée des arts décoratifs 1999  
interventions publiques I public space projects (selection)
metavilla 2015Collateral Project to the 12th Havana Biennial 2015Prison Qara Meknès 2015
Art Paris 2015Analix Forever 2014Sculpture Beach Art Dubai 2012
Le Printemps de Septembre 2012Narracje 4 2012Ivry 2010
FIAC Tuileries 2010 Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt 2004