BPS22 - Musée d'art de la Province de Hainaut presents a solo exhibition of work by Latifa Echakhch

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BPS22 - Musée d'art de la Province de Hainaut presents a solo exhibition of work by Latifa Echakhch
Latifa Echakhch, Tour de Babel, 2010-2011, Courtesy the artist and kamel mennour, Paris, London. Photo: Leslie Artamonow.

CHARLEROI.- Working in painting, sculpture and installations, the Moroccan‑born artist Latifa Echakhch (El Khnansa, 1974) chooses easily recognizable objects invested with a domestic and/or social burden, which she silences through destruction, deletion or by restoring them. This thereby deprives them of their usage value — pushing their function into oblivion — in order to free the memories attached to them. She summons memories and frees the ghosts that emerge from these objects. The work of Latifa Echakhch is simultaneously conceptual and romantic, both political and poetic.

For several years now, Latifa Echakhch has renewed the tradition of the romantic landscape and its associated motive: ruin. On the occasion of her exhibition at the BPS22 — which she designed as a retro-prospective — she created, in the Grande Halle, a specific path to take through decommissioned, half-suspended decors, like the many traces and vestiges of an action that has taken place, while unveiling progressively more than seventy other works. In the second room, the artist offers an immersive experience in which the visitor is confronted with fragments of scenery echoing the theme of ruin and featuring part of the artist’s own plastic vocabulary.

Summoning the notions of loss, abandonment, and traces, the exhibition forms a set of personal landscapes where memory recalls the obsolescence of modernity and its ruins.

An exhibition produced by the BPS22 with the support of galleries kamel mennour (Paris/London), Dvir Gallery (Brussels/Tel Aviv), kaufmann Repetto gallery (Milan/New York) and Metro Pictures (New York).

Born in 1974 in El Khnansa in the Moroccan countryside, Latifa Echakhch was three years old when her family took her away from her country of birth to live in Aix-les Bains on the shores of Lake Bourget in the Savoy Alps. Her father worked in the local casino, where the operettas with their sequins, costumes and tap-dancing fascinated the little girl. She received an orthodox education, learning all about French culture, and showed a gift for drawing. An artistic career, however, was not an option for her family. Nevertheless, a couple of weeks before her baccalaureate, her mother confided in Latifa that she had shown her drawings to a friend, who advised her to study fine arts. This had never occurred to Latifa Echakhch, but it was an attractive idea.

So she enrolled in the Ecole Supérieure d’Art in Grenoble where she discovered contemporary art and artists such as Yves Klein who would influence her for life. Step-by-step she started building her portfolio. Between 2001 and 2002, when the second intifada was at its height in Gaza and the Front National went on to the second round of the French Presidential elections, she started a postdiploma course at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Lyon. If she had previously felt that “doing art” was an indulgence, she now realised that she needed to commit to it and not withdraw from social and political life.

For as long as she could remember, Latifa Echakhch had always wanted to be politically active. In 1996, while she was taking Philippe Parreno’s class, he suggested she investigated the work of Cuban-born US artist Félix Gonzales-Torres [sic: Félix GonzálezTorres], whose exhibition Girlfriend in a coma was on show that year in the City of Paris Museum of modern art. Looking back at that time, Latifa Echakhch says it was when she found her equilibrium between politics and the sensory world.

After several years living in Paris, Latifa Echakhch now lives and works in Martigny in the Swiss Alps. Awarded the prestigious Marcel Duchamp Prize for contemporary art in 2013 and the Zurich Art Prize in 2015, these days Latifa Echakhch enjoys international recognition and is represented by the galleries kamel mennour (Paris/London), kaufmann repetto (Milan), Dvir Gallery (Brussels/Tel Aviv) and Metro Pictures (New York). In 2021 she will represent Switzerland at the Venice Biennale. As a woman, artist and immigrant, this appointment represents significant recognition on a personal level, as well as professionally, artistically and politically.

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