The Cécile Fakhoury Gallery in Abidjan, normally impressing viewers with its ample space in white, has been completely redesigned and transformed into a cinema with separate projection spaces for the exhibition Mécaniques des fluides, showing since June 14th.
It is dark inside. Visitors only have the light of the projection surfaces and the plasma screen to guide them, showing the video People’s passion, lifestyle, beautiful wine, gigantic glass towers, all surrounded by water by Neil Beloufa at the end of a corridor, between the works of Zhou Tao and Pierre Huyghe.
The films and videos presented in an endless loop are the works of nine artists from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the USA: Eija-Liisa Ahtila, John Akomfrah, Francis Alÿs, Neil Beloufa, Pierre Huyghe, Bouchra Khalili, Allan Sekula, Zhou Tao and The Atlas Group.
The works address the ties Africa has with Europe, America and Asia. The topics focus on political issues. For instance in Allan Sekula’s work Lottery of the Sea, in which he sets up a huge ship and describes how the Panama Canal led to “the development of American imperialism”. It is an essayistic journey.
In trying to eliminate obstacles, Francis Alÿs attempts to construct a bridge across the 13 kilometre-long Strait of Gibraltar, separating Africa from Europe. In his video work Don’t Cross the Bridge Before You Get to the River, projected onto two screens, the artist who formerly worked as an architect delineates a world propagating globalism while at the same time erecting barricades at its borders. The narrative is documented by a group of children swimming in a row, one behind the other, from Europe to Morocco, and a second group, also swimming in a row, from Africa to Spain.
By asking, “Is it imaginable for the two groups to meet on the horizon?”, Francis Alÿs invites viewers to dip into the blue waves to experience it themselves. The visitor placed into an environment he or she is familiar (Fishermen, Eija-Liisa Ahtila) or unfamiliar with (A Journey that wasn’t, Pierre Huyghe) is guided on his or her journey by the stages Bouchra Khalili has traced on a map (The Mapping Journey Project). A boat that is put to sea (Lottery of the Sea), a voyage on the waters of the world.
Mécaniques des fluides came about following a proposal by Marie Muracciole, who is also the curator responsible. The aim of the exhibition is to interrelate humankind and the sea, Marie contends. “A forgotten space,” she says regretfully, because it was destroyed by humans even though it yields so many treasures.
After presenting paintings and photography, Mécaniques des fluides is the first exhibition of this kind at the Cécile Fakhoury Gallery.