Malek Gnaoui, Essaida Carthage: Between the Past and the Future
Hundreds of independent art and museums spaces were forced to close due to the Corona-Crisis. In this series we are celebrating all the fantastic artistic events that are right now sitting behind closed doors. It is as a ceramicist that Malek Gnaoui has become acquainted with earth, its modelling as clay, and its firing, which in turn has led him to appreciate its endless complexity and symbolic meaning. Go for a virtual tour through his exhibition at Selma Feriani Gallery in Tunis here on C&.
Installation view Malek Gnaoui, Essaida Carthage: Between the Past and the Future. Courtesy of Selma Feriani Gallery and the artist.
As a committed artist keenly aware of contemporary societal issues, a native of Gabes in Tunisia, Gnaoui has diversified his activities by developing other forms of visuality, such as social visuality, bypassing traditional forms which manipulate the earth, in order to question the potential of the material and its symbolism, therefore, lending his work a political angle. The history of art and contemporary art sometimes manages to create connections and links between fragments of civilization and life which do not only produce new outlooks, but often succeed in shedding light on certain realities which go unnoticed. In this respect, Gnaoui is not interested solely in the narratives of the victors, the ones we learn in history lessons, but also in those which pass by word of mouth, from memory to memory, from grandparents to grandchildren. These narratives are not composed only of words, but may at times take on aesthetic and traditional forms, or assume manifestations of the immaterial cultural heritage, and the same applies to style, décors, and stylistic ornamentation that we find in embroidery, ceramic decoration and ornamental models. The exhibition Essaïda-Carthage might be a result of this kind of narrative, or rather of its de-construction, thanks to which it permits these different narratives to collide, complement one another and sometimes to contradict each other.