Continuing, with, 2017
In his second solo show at c-o-m-p-o-s-i-t-e, Moroccan-born artist Hamza Halloubi (b. 1982, lives and works in Brussels) conflates late and present century issues of the status of location, gender, history, cultural practice and its objects. He recounts about hosts, entanglements and the time spent together. Throughout, Halloubi revisits modern subjects of subjugation and their negated alterity as an act of dynamic uncompromise. Pleading for resurgence. Looking for alterity within. Continuing, along. Continuing, with.
Paintings that Halloubi started making 15 years ago in Morocco, and that have since travelled by his side, have been erased once more to be shown at the gallery. According to the artist they have lost their raison d’être as narrative and representational images, apart from the remaining value of having circulated with him. Nevertheless, in their persistent erasure the paintings have gained a life of their own. Not ours anymore. But still. They’re there. Keeping company. And, as we host them, they also receive us.
A short, one-take video shows a woman descending a staircase. Much like some other women have done for an artist in modern art history. But it is not exactly the same woman as before. And it’s not exactly the same artist either. Another woman, another artist, another staircase. A superimposed image shows one more woman, too. Her apparition, cut away from its original manifestation, gets entangled in the video work’s narration. And, by extension, that of the whole show.
Across, in another one-take video, fellow artist Geo Wyeth sings while approaching those who take part in the encounter, interior and exterior to the video. He wonders about meeting up somewhere together. When finally at private distance, 180° and 360° shifts come to trouble some obsolete binaries: author versus character, resistance versus power, self versus other. A highly vertical work becomes infected with horizontality.
In Un après-midi à Larache, screened in a blue room downstairs, Halloubi sets out to find the tomb of French writer Jean Genet. On his way, a narrative gets sparked by keeping the camera in his pocket. The recording leads Halloubi to a consideration of the effects of digital video imagery. Following a conjecture about digital video as autonomous storytellers-to-come, he suggests the technology to be a spectral one. If the fault line between moderns and their others can be brought back to that between in/animism, then Halloubi’s proposition is worth considering. If digital video imagery is a ghostly virus, then we live in a truly ubiquitous animist world!
Subsequently, we find ourselves at another modern fault line – namely that of topopolitical boundaries. On this cliff, the focus slips into questions about the legitimacy of knowledge, the stories worth telling, and how pasts define access to the future. It is difficult to gain a foothold so as to find a way out while in limbo.
Resuming his search for the tomb, the artist traces an opposite, or rather contrasting, path; the path of a stranger at home. Once at the tomb (it is actually there), the question of erasure comes to the fore again. Going about with tombs, stories and lives not ours anymore (but still). The monument as an event. Or, with it, imagining other stories- to-come.
In an era where things, data, people and other species massively move around, with greater or lesser difficulty – because they want to, need to, or ‘just do so’ – navigation rather than position becomes key to identity and other politics. ‘Position’ (solid & fixed) and ‘flux’ (fluid & loose) now share the scene with something more equivocal and pragmatic. Navigating across variable geometries of im/material investments of form, it matters what his- and herstories, what companions, and what troubles you continue to carry along and forward.