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THE NORDIC CHAPTER BY BOUCHRA KHALILI

Exhibition period: 14 August - 27 September

Opening: 13 August 18:00-20:00 at Oslo Kunstforening and Fotogalleriet

Fotogalleriet, Oslo Kunstforening and TrAP are pleased to present a multi-site program of the internationally renowned artist Bouchra Khalili, the result of a collaboration spanning several years.

The Nordic Chapter is Khalili’s first solo exhibition in Norway. Encompassing moving image, installation, photography and publication, the show features works produced in the last ten years, examining the politics of memory, specifically of anti-colonial struggles in the Global South and the Global North.

The Nordic Chapter sheds new light upon Foreign Office, Khalili’s mixed-media project produced in 2015 in Algiers. Foreign Officemeditates upon the internationalist era in North Africa, investigating the decade between 1962-1972, during which Algiers became the capital of anti-colonial movements of liberation, hosting the headquarters of Mandela’s ANC, Amilcar Cabral’s PAIGC, Frelimo, and the International Section of the Black Panther Party, among many others. Foreign Office will be presented at Oslo Kunstforening, along with The Speeches Series (2012-2013), a video trilogy focusing on speech acts, agency, citizenship and class belonging, as represented by members of contemporary migrant communities originating from former colonized nations. A counterpoint to Foreign Office, The Speeches Series examines the continuum of anti-colonial struggles among immigrant communities and citizens of immigrant descent in Europe and the United States of America.

The exhibition at Fotogalleriet responds to the exhibition at OK with a reflection on the ethics of solidarity as epitomized by Jean Genet and his unconditional commitment to the oppressed and revolutionary groups. Twenty-Two Hours (2018) is a 45-minute film focuses on Jean Genet and his three-month-long stay with the Black Panthers in the U.S. It also includes The Radical Ally (2019), an artist’s publication offering a visual and textual investigation of Twenty-Two Hours. The Typographer (2019) is a short 16mm film concluding Khalili’s investigation of Jean Genet and his conception of allyship. The piece articulates Genet’s only professional training – typography – with the last sentence he wrote, forming the epigraph of his posthumously published memoirs Prisoner of Love. Genet’s commitment to typography illuminates the historical role that typographers played in the dissemination of progressive ideas among the working-class.

Offering a key moment of collective remembrance and incantations is a one-day series of lecture-performances that will gather witnesses of the international solidarity movement in Norway. It will reflect on the position of the witness to collective emancipation. Mirroring the geography of Khalili’s exhibition, the series of lecture-performances and conversations will focus on the struggle against apartheid in Southern Africa, the Palestinian revolution, and the Black Panther Party. The guidelines for participation in this event are informed by Jean Genet’s conception of unconditional solidarity and allyship: not speaking on behalf, nor-in lieu, but from the position of the witness.

Ultimately, the program of complementary exhibitions and the series of lecture-performances invite us to ask ourselves: how to stand in solidarity; who can and how to bear witness to the history of collective emancipation.

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Bouchra Khalili is a Moroccan-born Berlin-based artist who has reached international recognition during the past decade for her unconventional and innovative narration of history of subjects rendered invisible by the nation-state model. Brought forward by storytellers concerned with first-person narratives, the gap of time (between current and past events) is abolished in favor of a co-presence of the past, the present, and a potential future, addressing the position of the witness to tackle discourses of resistance and solidarity, rooted in decisive political moments of liberation. Khalili’s work is concerned with micro-narratives and forms of resistance of suppressed groups, and the central role of alternative historiography (at times a missing one), examined through the storytellers who are actually taking on the burden of history. Her work offers a meditation on the “civic poet” as a witness to history, inspired by both Pier Paolo Pasolini’s conception of civic poetry, the individual who uses public space and public speech, speaking from one’s subjective position to articulate a collective voice; and Al Halqa, the oldest form of street performance in Morocco in which the public storyteller operates as the historiographer of the people and its “living archives”.

Khalili’s work has been the subject of many international solo exhibitions, including shows at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, USA (2019), Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany (2018), Jeu de Paume National Gallery, Paris, France (2018), Secession, Vienna, Austria (2018), Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH, USA (2017), MoMA, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA (2016), Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2015), MACBA, Barcelona, Spain (2015), PAMM, Miami, FL, USA (2013-2014), among others.

Her work was also included in key collective exhibitions and biennales, such as Bamako Encounters, Bamako, Mali (2019-2020), documenta 14, Athens, Greece and Kassel, Germany, and the Milano Triennale, Milan, Italy (2017), Telling Tales, MCA, Sidney, Australia (2016), The Future of History, Kunsthaus Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland, (2015), Positions, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, the Netherlands (2014), Here and Elsewhere, New Museum, New York, NY, USA (2014), The Encyclopedic Palace, 55th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2013), Intense Proximity: La Triennale, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2012), the 18th Biennale of Sydney, Sydney, Australia (2012) and the 10th Sharjah Biennial, Sharjah, UAE (2011), among others.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This exhibition has been made possible through the generous support of the Institut français, ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen), Oslo National Academy of the Arts, The Audio and Visual Fund, Arts Council Norway, The Fritt Ord Foundation and The Norwegian Association of Art Societies.

Photo: Video still from Twenty-Two Hours. Digital film. 2018. 43'. Commissioned for Ruhr Triennale, 2018. Produced with the support of Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and Harvard Film Study Center, Secession Vienna. Courtesy of the artist and Mor Charpentier Gallery, Paris

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