They are Sarri Elfaitouri, Soukaina Joual, Yoshinori Niwa, and Kosta Tonev. All of them have been in a way or another testimonies of failed political utopias; today, they question them and analyze the after-effects. The exhibition is curated by Christine Bruckbauer (co-founder of philomena+ and director of its visual arts program) and Elisabeth Piskernik (art historian and founder of Le Cube – independent art room, Rabat). I like the idea of a co-curated exhibition. One can feel the profound knowledge that both of the curators hold concerning the Arab World. The selected artworks fully encounter each other by building a complete narrative and do invite the audience to discover or expand geopolitical knowledge. The exhibition opened on the 3d of December, under this year’s first snow, already at ten o’clock in the morning. Unorthodox daylong openings were made perhaps out of necessity for respecting the C-19 rules, but this now has gained flair, seeing a show in the morning is somehow exotic. Seeing a show at the beginning of the day has other qualities to offer and is somehow exotic. When this exhibition was conceived, Vienna was under lockdown, so the show was designed in a way that could be glimpsed or seen from outside. The existing architecture enables it: a large display window, two side vitrines, a large sidewalk expand the physical gallery space toward the road, the world (philomena+ is known for its concerns regarding public spaces and its participative attitude). The exhibition is built in Acts. I have the feeling that depending on how each Act is organized, the visitor will walk in the space differently. Sometimes maybe they will stop at the sidewalk and see the exhibition from there. At other times, perhaps they will go around the gallery and watch the displayed artworks. The artworks have an un-hierarchical attitude. They complete and continue each other narratives. As noticed in my previews articles, the sound of a place has become an essential part of them (like to bring the reader closer to the occurrence). In the exhibition BIG IDEAS. Political Ideologies and their aftermath, Cornelius Wildner, austrian sound artist collects hearable and subliminal noises. One can hear the sound of a day start at philomena+ (December 2020), movements that take place in and outside the space, words, meat grinder noises (from Soukaina Joual past performance I’m not so innocent anymore), and fragments from the video Dolls. In the end, from selected moments of this long happening is gained a sound archive.
One can hear the sound of a day start at philomena+ (December 2020), movements that take place in and outside the space, words, meat grinder noises (from Soukaina Joual past performance I’m not so innocent anymore), and fragments from the video Dolls. In the end, from selected moments of this long happening is gained a sound archive“
Cornelius Wildner, Soundmapping philomena+, 2020
During Act number one, large format digital collages from the Libyan digital artist & architect Sarri Elfaitouri were displayed in the wide window of philomena+. The series is called Radical Libyanism. In their togetherness, the collages create an installation. The rest of the gallery is empty. The work of Kosta Tonev and Soukaina Joual is not yet there. Sarri Elfaitouri analyses and interprets the society where he lives. Both city’s past and present are of importance for him. He revives through digital collages the history, its by-gone conquistadors, the architectural influences, the recent war, and the future. The artist is born in Benghazi, which has been the city with the highest number of Italians during the Italian occupation. In his assemblages, a lot of Italian connoted architectures have remained. Such as a column with the Venice Lion, passageways between arches. Command words in Italian are written in some parts of the city. The artworks are mystic, and the usage of these digital layers has the power to bring the viewers to engage with the country’s distant and recent history. Two collage elements gripped my mind: a henna tattooed hand that throws a massive stone (also compared to the collage’s size) to the city and two huge installed eyes. Which purpose do they fulfill? It would have been nice to talk with him about this work in person. In Libya, he has founded TAJARROD, a platform for architecture and art, which brings together architects, students, and theoreticians. In TAJARROD are discussed possibilities and potentials, that a city can have to absorb tragedies, tensions. Reinvention and change are hoped for. Even though Libya is still under turmoils, we can see the domination of golden layers in Sarri’s work. Is this maybe a symbol of hope?