Bouchra Khalili, The Tempest Society, 2017 (still). Video with Greek, Syrian Arabic, French, and English subtitles, sound, color; 60 min. Commissioned for documenta 14. Courtesy of the artist.
Join us for the US premiere of Bouchra Khalili’s The Tempest Society (2017). The artist will discuss her film and new artist book by the same title with curator and writer Omar Berrada. Commissioned by documenta 14 (Athens), The Tempest Society considers the forgotten heritage of Al-Assifa (“The Tempest” in Arabic), an agitprop theater comprising North African immigrant workers and French students that was active in Paris from 1972 to 1978, and explores its relevance to present day economic and humanitarian struggles.
The film is neither documentary nor fiction but rather a hypothesis. In 2017 in Athens, Khalili invited three individuals from different backgrounds to form a theater group. The young Athenians name themselves “The Tempest Society,” and draw inspiration from Al Assifa’s method of performance as “theatrical newspaper” to address racism and inequality in France. The guests that join the performers of the Tempest Society include: Ghani, a spokesperson for a group of three hundred immigrant workers who conducted a hunger strike in 2011 for equal rights at work; Katerina, born in Greece but undocumented, who meditates on citizenship and civic belonging; and Malek, a young Syrian refugee who engaged with theater in Athens to turn “sadness into beauty.” Together they turn the theater into a civic space to share their stories and examine the current state of Greece, Europe, and the Mediterranean.
The program celebrates the US launch of Khalili’s publication, The Tempest Society (Book Works, 2019), which revisits and resuscitates the forgotten heritage of Al Assifa with rare archival materials, new essays, and interviews.
Bouchra Khalili (b. 1976, Casablanca, Morocco) is a visual artist based in Berlin. She studied film at Sorbonne Nouvelle and visual arts at the École Nationale Supérieure d’Arts de Paris-Cergy. Based on extensive research, her practice in film, installation, photography and printmaking investigates strategies and discourses of resistance as elaborated, developed, and narrated by individuals, often members of political minorities rendered invisible by the nation-state. She has participated in many major international exhibitions including documenta 14, the 55th Venice Biennale, the 18th Sydney Biennial, the 10th Sharjah Biennial, and the 5th Moscow Biennial, among others. She has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), Jeu de Paume National Gallery (Paris), Museum Folkwang (Essen), Secession (Vienna), MoMA (New York), PAMM (Miami), MACBA (Barcelona), and Palais de Tokyo (Paris), among others. Khalili’s work has been included in New Museum exhibitions “Here and Elsewhere” (2014) and “The Warmth of Other Suns” (2019) at the Phillips collection. She is a 2019 Soros Arts Fellow at the Open Society Foundations.
Omar Berrada is a writer and curator, and the director of Dar al-Ma’mûn, a library and artists residency in Marrakech. Previously, he organized public programs at Centre Pompidou, hosted shows on French national radio, and ran Tangier’s International Book Salon. His work focuses on the politics of translation and intergenerational transmission. He has edited several books, most recently The Africans (2016), a book on migration and racial dynamics in Morocco. He has curated exhibitions in Rabat, Marrakech, Rotterdam, Berlin, Dubai, and New York, including the ongoing “Station Point” with Saba Innab at ifa-Gallery Berlin and “The Power of Two Suns” with Yto Barrada and Bettina at LMCC on Governors Island. His writing is included in The University of California Book of North African Literature (2012) and Poetic Justice: An Anthology of Contemporary Moroccan Poetry (2019), among others. Currently living in New York, Berrada teaches at The Cooper Union where he and Leslie Hewitt co-organize the IDS Lecture Series.
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