Smith College Museum of Art announces 2023 Artist in Residence Abdessamad El Montassir

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Smith College Museum of Art announces 2023 Artist in Residence Abdessamad El Montassir
Artist in Residence shares stories of the Sahara through photo, video, and research. © Franck Alix / La Cinémathèque de Toulouse.

NORTHAMPTON, MASS.- Artist Abdessamad El Montassir will join the Smith College Museum of Art as an Artist in Residence (AIR) from March 6 – April 21, 2023. El Montassir practices art at the crossroads of research and creation. He creates photos and videos to revive buried histories of North Africa. His collaborations with scientists, citizens, and activists will bring a viewpoint rarely seen in the United States. El Montassir’s engagement with the Smith College community adds to knowledge of Saharan, North African, and Middle Eastern scholarship and research processes. His residency will include a presentation to the public in Spring 2023.

Emma Chubb, PhD, Charlotte Feng Ford '83 Curator of Contemporary Art, situates this residency within Smith College’s unique collections and resources. “SCMA’s residency brings artists who are at a pivotal point in their careers to campus for a period of creative exploration and experimentation rooted in exchanges with faculty, staff, and students. Abdessamad El Montassir is an ideal artist for this residency. El Montassir works primarily in film and photography. His research-based approach addresses histories outside of official narratives, especially as they relate to the Western Sahara and themes of memory, forgetting, and trauma.”

During his residency, El Montassir will explore complex social situations through his work. Âabide l’kadia is an interdisciplinary project that shines a light on communities of slaves and Haratins (literally “second group of free people”) in North Africa. In the Sahara, and particularly in Mauritania, slavery remains widespread despite its official abolition, and talking about it is still prohibited. Groups of former slaves and Haratins called the Meddaha have created contemporary spaces of emancipation and protest. Âabide l’kadia plunges us into the poetry and music produced by these communities, as well as non-human elements.

El Montassir is a bearer of stories and his backdrop is the Sahara: he tells the desert, unfettered, with the freedom of hypothesis. He was born in 1989 in Morocco, and currently lives and works between Boujdour and eastern France. He graduated from the National Institute of Fine Arts of Tetouan and the Ecole Normale Supérieure of Meknes. From 2017 to 2020, he was an associate fellow at IMéRA - Institute for Advanced Study in Marseille. He is currently the recipient of the MÉCÈNES DU SUD grant and the ADAGP x Bétonsalon grant, for which he is developing a project in partnership with Bétonsalon and the Kandinsky Library of the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

He has participated in several exhibitions including Mémoire des cendres curated by Paul de Sorbier at Maison Salvan (Labège), Maa ka Maaya ka ca a yere kono for the 13th Bamako Encounters (Bamako), Les Sentinelles curated by Pascale Cassagnau and Camille Leprince at Institut du Monde Arabe (Tourcoing), Leave No Stone Unturned [Remuer la terre] curated by Clelia Coussonnet at Le Cube - independent art room (Rabat), Ce qui s’oublie et ce qui reste curated by Isabelle Renard and Meriem Berrada at the Musée de l’histoire de l’immigration (Paris), Invisible curated by Alya Sebti for the Dakar Biennale and the ifa Gallery Berlin.

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