French artist, poet and writer Tarek Lakhrissi presents an installation comprising of a new series of metal sculptures which exist somewhere between swords and signs, continuing the artist’s research into the need to defend oneself as a political practice and building a new language through visual forms.
Lakhrissi works across installation, performance, film, text and sculpture, engaging in political and social issues around transformative narratives within language, magic, weirdness, codes and love. Having studied literature, each project Lakhrissi initiates derives from text; poetry and language being his primary obsession, before translating ideas from these mediums into visual art.
The work of French writer Jean Genet has been a large influence on Lakhrissi’s work and life. For ‘Perfume of Traitors’, Lakhrissi has drawn on the philosophy of betrayal that Genet’s seminal novel ‘The Thief’s Journal’ contemplates and explores through an autobiographical story of love and deceit. In the artists own reading of the text, he comes to the conclusion that “in order to be free, you have to betray; you have to be a traitor to be free.” This notion is encapsulated within each hanging steel sculpture. Similar to his installation produced for Crac Alsace (2019) and Palais de Tokyo (2020), the metal sculptures shown in ‘Perfume of Traitors’ are able to be wielded, but considered failed or useless because of their blunted manufacturing. In the process of designing the sculptures, Lakhrissi wanted to reveal the one lodged in the back, a gesture to the saying ‘stabbed in the back’, a violent synonym of betrayal. The designs are then distorted in a romantic self-sabotage to render them useless; empowering oneself in a non- threatening and non-violent way.
Drawing on pop-culture heroines such as ‘Xena: Warrior Princess’ and ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, the sculptures are styled on mythological weapons, that as well as having a mass sex appeal, signifies power and strength of the individual. The sculptures are arranged across the gallery space to be reminiscent of a language or symbol; this hidden, secondary element remains shrouded as the language is unknown, fabricated by the artist to conceal its meaning from those who are not meant to read it.
The space is filled with a toxic green colour giving an ambiguous atmosphere; seen by the artist as a deterrent for some, but a sign of safety for others. The installation spans VITRINE’s 16 metre window space which is viewable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from Bermondsey Square.