Galerie Eva Presenhuber presents “ess ich das Buch mit allen Insignien“, an exhibition featuring new works by Latifa Echakhch. Following “The scene takes place“ (2013), this is the second solo-exhibition dedicated to the artist based in Fully, Switzerland.
In her works, Echakhch, who was born in Marocco but migrated to France at the age of three, studies how memory traces are changed by their repeated appearance, turning them into new objects that are intelligible yet ambiguous at the same time. The appropriation and transformation of different materials follows the individual and heterogeneous ways identities are created. In former works Echakhch employed materials like her own diary entries from her youth, stencils which originally were used by the demonstrators in 1968, and stage scenery. Furthermore, she studied the technique of arabic ornaments, but rather than repeating the traditional forms created her own non-symetric and chaotic one, thus refusing any political or ideological attribution.
In her current exhibition, which features a title taken from a poem by Paul Celan, Echakhch separates the exhibition room with a cross-shaped wall into four equal parts. Each room shows the same combination of works that are also equally arranged. At first glance the four rooms seem to be identical, yet there are subtle differences. They allude to time itself and the inevitable changes it brings, as well as to our memories, which are never the same as a second view of the original image. Repetition always means change.
Just like the spatial arrangement, the single works deal with time, memory, and changing the meaning of objects through an individual approach and their socio-cultural context. Carpets, manufactured in Marocco but left unfinished and thus presented in different stages of the production process, are dipped in dense red colour, stretched onto frames and installed on the wall. They refer to former works by Echakhch for which she dipped canvasses in blue colour, and of course to her place of birth.
Four slide-shows project 70 amateur photographs each, showing ideal landscapes. The slides themselves are partly painted with black ink by the artist and once more illustrate the individual approach to places of rememberance that are shared by many yet perceived differently by everyone. The ink, hiding parts of the slides and highlighting others, creates abstract images.
Apart from the installed carpets and the slide-shows, Echakhch shows objects that refer to her own memories and which are also partly dipped in black ink. Like in the slides, the ink implies individual poetic speech. Touching the slides and objects with ink for Echakhch always is a trace of writing which already contains the possibility of a poem.
The technique of scratching out contents or leaving things unfinished is crucial to Echakhchs work with objects. She also makes use of it with regard to the title: Taking Celan‘s poem, she erased the first verse, “NOW, as the prayer stools burn“. In doing so, she erases the reference to a certain present along with the reason for the following verses: “I eat the book / with all its / insignia“. The cause is erased, and only the consequence remains visible: Celan‘s NOW is replaced by our now.
Echakhchs work always refers to the actual present, that – as its context – changes memory. It leads to questions of how the meaning of places and objects, how memory and not least identity changes. Echakhchs answer is poetic and at the same time conceptual: Her works are always graspable and yet always keep changing.
- Latifa Echakhch Prix Marcel Duchamp 2013. Photo: MACBA by Andrea Bosch
- Latifa Echakhch: Ess Ich Das Buch Mit Allen Insignien, Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich 2016