Internationally acclaimed artist Mohamed Bourouissa portrays masculine culture in disadvantaged communities
In a few weeks, Kunsthal Charlottenborg will present a solo exhibition featuring French-Algerian artist Mohamed Bourouissa. Working in the field where documentary and fiction intersect, Bourouissa uses photography, rap music and other modes of expression to call attention to the peripheries of society and challenge the mainstream media’s portrayals of young people from ethnic minority backgrounds. Widely exhibited around the world, the artist was awarded the British Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize last year.
Mohamed Bourouissa’s solo exhibition at Kunsthal Charlottenborg presents a selection of early and recent works and spans many media: photography, sound, installation and video, including the video Temps Mort (2008–09), in which the artist exchanges messages and grainy smartphone images with an imprisoned friend. Also featured are portraits of youth culture in central Paris, Nous Sommes Halles (2003–05), and staged depictions of French suburban ghetto street life inspired by canonical art-historical references in the series Périphéries (2006-08). These works challenge contemporary image culture and the media’s portrayals of young people with minority backgrounds.
The sound installation Hara (2020), after which the exhibition is named, highlights Bourouissa’s interest in language, codes and communication. The word ‘hara’ is used in Marseille by young people acting as lookouts: they shout it as a warning, for example to inform drug dealers that the police are approaching. Here, the distorted word becomes a sound installation poised somewhere between everyday language and abstract sound, veering in the direction of concrete poetry.
A major highlight is Bourouissa’s critically acclaimed film installation Horse Day (2014–15). Bourouissa moved to a run-down low-income area in Philadelphia, USA with the intention of making an alternative kind of cowboy film – set in the big city and with African-American protagonists – but, after living there for eight months, he ended up doing something else instead. He portrayed the local community in a film documenting Horse Day; an event initiated by Bourouissa, where riders collaborated with local artists on decorating the horses for a show.
The installation Brutal Family Roots (2020) was originally created for last year’s Sydney Biennale during a residency at the Bundanon Trust south of Sydney, an area which was originally home to the Wodi Wodi people of the Yuin nation. During his stay, Bourouissa created this work in collaboration with the musicians MC Kronic (hip hop/rap artist, activist and poet belonging to the Wodi Wodi people), Nardean (Egyptian-Australian MC, poet, singer and songwriter) and Jordan Quiqueret (French sound designer and programmer).
Mohamed Bourouissa (b. 1978 in Blida, Algera) lives in Paris. He has exhibited widely – solo exhibitions include Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Haus der Kunst in Munich and most recently Goldsmiths CCA in London. He has participated in a large number of group exhibitions including the biennials in Sydney, Sharjah, Havana, Lyon, Venice, Algeria, Liverpool and Berlin. In 2018 he was nominated for the prestigious French art award Le Prix Marcel Duchamp and in 2020 he was awarded the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Award.
The exhibition HARa!!!!!!hAaaRAAAAA!!!!!hHAaA!!! at Kunsthal Charlottenborg is Mohamed Bourouissa’s first solo show in Scandinavia. The exhibition is curated by Henriette Bretton-Meyer and created in close collaboration with Goldsmiths CCA in London, where it was shown earlier this year.
The exhibition is supported by the Augustinus Foundation, the Obel Family Foundation and the Danish Arts Foundation.
Mohamed Bourouissa, Horse Day, 2014 – 2015. Video dyptic (color sound) 13’32’’. Production MOBILES, with PMU support. © ADAGP, Paris 2018. Courtesy the artist and kamel mennour, Paris/London.
Mohamed Bourouissa, La fenêtre, 2005. From the series “Périphérique”. C-print 90 x 120 cm. © ADAGP Mohamed Bourouissa. Courtesy the artist and kamel mennour, Paris/London.
Mohamed Bourouissa, Brutal Family Roots, 2020. Mixed-media installation, acacia trees, carpet and sound, variable sizes, © ADAGP Mohamed Bourouissa. Courtesy the artist and kamel mennour, Paris/London.