A Questionnaire by Kurt Snoekx, 2017
Whether he is filming inside the pocket of his coat, sanding the surface of his paintings, revisiting the history of art, pondering failed revolutions, exploring exile and the periphery of thought, or producing time, Tangier-born, Brussels-based artist Hamza Halloubi is taking a stand. With simple but oh so powerful means, and in the most poetic of voices. He cracked open some fortune cookies and shared his thoughts with us.
"I can’t go on. I’ll go on."
“I would like to think it was me who wrote these sentences, because I am often confronted with this attitude. I can’t continue, because of difficulties I encounter, because of a lack of means, the futility of what I want to do, or just because I’m lazy. Nobody wants this. It can’t be sold. And yet, I have to go ahead and do it, in the most simple way, investing the least amount of energy and means. With a lot of improvisation, but also with precision. With as little at hand as a slight movement of the camera, a text, an image… So it gets made, and it goes on!”
“In the exhibition at c-o-m-p-o-s-i-t-e, I am showing a series of older paintings. For 15 years, they have accompanied me on my travels and residencies. They contain traces of time and of all my peregrinations. By sanding their surface and slowly erasing them, I am giving them a different status. New images arise. In my videos, I sometimes also shoot the same thing multiple times over the course of years. These pieces don’t revolve around a certain object as much as they are about time. Whether it is my older paintings or my videos, they all occupy a space and time frame of their own. They don’t suggest time, they produce it.”
"Stories are always true. It’s the facts that are misleading."
“In cinema, a distinction is made between fiction and documentary. This does not really interest me. Can you imagine people discussing the level of fact or fiction in a painting by Rembrandt? A work of art has its own truth and its own time frame that work independently from reality. In my work it is my voice, my subjectivity that is at stake. I don’t believe in the objective nature of art, history, or the media… It is always those in power who pass off their own ‘objectivity’ and their own ‘truth’ as universal and attempt to impose them on others.”
“I often focus on characters rather than stories. My works are more like portraits, by Jean Genet or Edward Said for example, subjectivities that resist official narratives and established truths. Again, in reference to the exhibition at c-o-m-p-o-s-i-t-e, I feel like someone who continues and relates to something that preceded me in history, with other subjectivities and imaginings.”
"No one today is purely one thing."
“My work consists of simple gestures that ask complex questions. I’m not the kind of artist who stays in his comfort zone and communicates with an audience that is itself comfortable with its language and culture. I try to get people involved in my work and to get them involved in their own affairs. It’s not really a matter of ‘dialogue’, ‘communication’, or ‘exchange’ – all words the media hold very dear – but rather of being aware that there is someone out there with whom you share the same space but who perhaps perceives the world differently from you.”
“If you look at the videos in the exhibition, With Geo for example, I always try to integrate the place of the viewer in the reflections and conceptualisations of the film. Viewers are never neutral. They see and are simultaneously seen. They are defined in the same moment in which they define what they are seeing. It is the mutual gaze of equals!”