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latifa echakhch

La Ronda

Capella MACBA, Barcelona
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La ronda


La ronda was the title of the exhibition conceived by Moroccan-born French artist Latifa Echakhch (El Khansa, Morocco, 1974) for the Capella MACBA. It consisted of three interrelated installations: Eivissa (2010), Gaya (E102) 5, Vitrail (2010) and Fantasia (2010), which formed a kind of performative still life that could be interpreted on many levels. “La ronda” is a Spanish card game that is also popular in Morocco, which the artist used to play to amuse herself during her summer holidays as a teenager in the African country.

The title of the exhibition is thus a clue to some of the key aspects Echakhch’s work: the use of symbols and traditions from her own experience to build critical reflections on politically relevant social issues, such as migratory flows and how they contribute to shaping new identities. As in he previous works, Echakhch uses povera or non-artistic materials (food colouring, sugar cubes, couscous, playing cards and carpets) as the main elements of her work. In fact, she draws inspiration from these elements and from the sensory memories that radiate from them, in order to shape her ideas.

All the exhibitions at the Capella MACBA share the common denominator of having been specifically produced to be shown in this space. Our purpose is not to promote a link with the architecture but to foster an awareness of the creation, through a particular ‘topos’, of a new work that the museum may acquire for its collection in the future.

‘I like to work with what is often called “cultural heritage”, but the materials that I use are banal and clichéd, like sugar blocks, doors, couscous, rugs, official documents.’ Latifa Echakhch

For her exhibition at the MACBA Latifa Echakhch presents three installations created specifically for this space. two of them refer to human flows from North Africa, movements of people who, fleeing poverty or in war expeditions, have traditionally headed towards Europe, some of them settling in Spain. The central piece, Fantasia (2010), consists of fourteen flagpoles distributed at different angles throughout the gallery space.

The title makes reference to the ‘Moroccan fantasy’, a traditional Moroccan festive and sports display in which a group of men ride horses and shoot their weapons simultaneously such that all the shots make a single sound.

It also alludes to the typical image of the plazas of Strasbourg, the seat of international organisations in front of which a battery of colourful flags are usually on display. Bared of their flags and strategically distributed to suggest different perspectives and volumetric rhythms, the flagpoles in this Fantasia are an invitation to contemplate the reversible and relative nature of national symbols and of the identities they represent, thus appealing to the idea of the multicultural.

In the second piece, Eivissa (2010), the Spanish playing cards used both in Spain and Morocco are seen from under pieces of the concrete platforms built in Eivissa during the Spanish Civil war to weigh down the tents of the Moroccans soldiers General Franco enlisted in his rebel army. The proximity of the elements, spaces and transaction rituals of two countries and cultures formulates a series of dialectics between play and dogma, the shared and the imposed, as well as between that which is understood to be fluid and transitory and that which declares itself definitive, though equally subject to decline.