mounir fatmi
ADN Platform, San Cugat del Vallès

The Index and The marchine, 2016

The Index and the Machine

ADN Platform

November 2016 – April 2017


ADN Galeria presents the second solo show by mounir fatmi at ADN Platform: The Index and the Machine. The Index and the Machine is a word association used in Western history for a long time, at least since the Renaissance, the period in which the printing machine originated and the first Index (the list of prohibited books by the Church) was published.

The printing machine changed writing, literature and especially culture in all its aspects. Until its creation, some instruments and tools had allowed a controlled circulation of religious ideas. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until its creation that books experienced a massive diffusion. As an instrument devoted to democracy, it quickly became a vehicle for the expansion of multiple ideas. However, the accession of the printing machine also brought censorship and ideological control to its peak. A proof of this was the first published text, the Bible, which served as a model but also an imposition that shaded the spread and evolution of more advanced theories. Since then, the Church published normative texts such as the List of Prohibited Books (Index librorum prohibitorum), which wasn’t formally abolished until 1966. Throughout these four centuries, a vast amount of philosophers, authors and writers were “mis à l’index”¹, and their works were accused of being ‘pernicious’ by the Catholic Church.

All these problematics linked to this paradoxical duality, carried by the mechanization of an ancestral technique as writing is, are the basis of the individual exhibition of mounir fatmi at ADN Platform. Through the video work Le Silence de St Pierre Martyr, the artist offers an analysis of intercultural relations confronted with prohibition and censorship. Fatmi’s questioning stance towards religion sets a series of interrogations about what is common and established, always from a respectful and thorough position. In Le Silence de St Pierre Martyr, fatmi transforms Fra Angelico’s “Saint Peter Martyr Enjoins Silence” (1441-1443) in a digital animation. By doing so, the artist destabilizes its meaning and evokes the violence hidden under the absence of words.

On the other hand, the piece Qui est Joseph Anton? confronts directly the consequences carried by literary censorship, as experienced by writer Salman Rushdie in 1989. Rushdie, who was forced to hide after Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa in Iran, forged a new identity under the alias of Joseph Anton by taking two of his favorite writers’ names: Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov. Fatmi’s piece “Who is Joseph Anton?” takes Rushdie’s endurance to investigate the notion and assumption of identity, as well as its fluidity and the malleability of the term. On the other hand, the project looks into the notion of alterity in literature and philosophy, and the boundaries between the self and the other.

Beyond the artworks on censorship, mounir fatmi seeks to interpellate the viewer regarding the concept of culture and history through the project Le Jongleur. By taking the opposite idea of the Index, seen here as a reflection of “universalist” culture that has prevailed during four centuries in the Catholic West, the artist disrupts the notion of History and European humanism. As the printing machine both channeled the circulation of ideas and censorship, the image of Le Jongleur allows the artist to address critically the antinomic consequences carried by progress.

Finally, “Le Paradoxe” is a new production through which fatmi investigates the limits of interpretation. The sculpture shows an obsolete grinder (a machine used to sharpen). Pieces of Arabic calligraphy surround the machine: the pieces seem to be extracted from a circular sawing sheet that is also a component of the grinder. The Arab writing, entity of any previous evidence to the Koran revelation, has been separated from the machine.

The religious text has become finally an abstraction that impedes the dogmatic message and allows for an open interpretation. By sharpening and cutting the language, Le Paradoxe lifts the weight of the religious message. It also allows for the recovery of a critical spirit that does not associate meanings to a sole concept. By taking the saw that cuts the words as a metaphor, the artwork contrasts the ancestral process of writing to modern technology, the infinite verb and its fragility. Ultimately, it evidences the instability of the meaning of language.

Through these works, the exhibition The Index and The Machine proposes a deep examination of certain topics to which fatmi tries to respond -such as the effects of hegemonic discourses, history, interpretation, memory and identity. Those topics are also present over the whole of his artistic production.

¹“Mettre à l’ïndex” is a French expression that indicates rejection and finds its origin precisely in the indexation ecclesiastic practice. The Catholic church repudiated certain works that were considered impure, infidel, obscene or dangerous to the precepts of Catholic religion. Those texts were introduced in the Index, a list of publications accused of heresy. The equivalent expression in English would be “to be blacklisted”.

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