For her first major museum exhibition in Belgium, Latifa Echakhch presents a new installation designed especially for the BPS22, as well as a selection of ancient works, exhibited together for the first time, around the notions of loss, abandonment and traces. Documenting contemporary ruin as an object of culture, Latifa Echakhch seizes it at the threshold of its destruction, just before its collapses and summons the imaginary in the face of what is more trivial.
For several years now, Latifa Echakhch renews the tradition of the romantic landscape and its associated motive: ruin. The artist goes beyond a literal in-terpretation of the word “ruin,” which no longer refers only to a degrading bu-ilding, but to the traces of its occupation: a photo album, a scarf, tea cups, a miniature perfume bottle, a little lead soldier, etc. Through the minimalist pictorial language, the acute sense of form and the economy of means that cha-racterise her work, she integrates these everyday objects chosen for their easily identifiable character in her installations. These objects are often emptied, car-ved out, cut, or drenched in a bath of black ink. Focused on the idea of still life, Latifa Echakhch says she “kills” the object. She “ruins” it, pushing into oblivion from what was possible to make it be seen differently and forces the memory to make sense of it. The ruins of Latifa Echakhch hence play the role of the “Memento mori” of capitalism: these disparate objects are all connected by the same obsolescence. They are dispossessed remains, torn from their respective contexts. Whereas ancient ruin combines ruin and sustainability, the artist expresses ruin and disappearance.
For the BPS22, the artist creates a walkthrough built upon a succession of per-sonal landscapes like a series of freeze frames. In the Grande Halle, the “The Dispossession” work, a crumpled, unfinished, half-suspended theatre set, is re-staged with other landscapes to form a decommissioned environment soaked in poe-try. While taking the history and peculiarities of the place into account, these sections of abandoned scenery on the ground, like after a performance, invoke different narratives and allow simultaneous possible readings in a complex set of signs, symbols, patterns, clues… In the Pierre Dupont room, a set of works on the wall, for the first time exhibited together, speaks of loss, of absence. These works are not only images, but are always remains and remnants of an action that took place, which the artist provoked and executed, but of which only the traces that she exhibits stay as they are.
If Latifa Echakhch’s work is often defined as romantic and poetic, it is a dif-ferent kind of romanticism that is presented here. “Perhaps it is a romanticism that goes back to its roots, when the industrial era began to invade the world and artists began to question the historicity, the blind belief in progress, the melancholy,” she explains. Latifa Echakhch invites the visitor, the witness of this trip, to amble through its contemporary ruins made of objects and everyday abundance.