Magazine article Artforum International

Latifa Echakhch: Galerie Kamel Mennour

Magazine article Artforum International

Latifa Echakhch: Galerie Kamel Mennour

Article excerpt

So much is in a name--particularly when that name happens to sound like Latifa Echakhch's in a country like France, still reeling from post-colonial reckoning. "Pendant que les champs brulent Part 2" (While the Fields Burn Part 2) was Echakhch's second solo exhibition at Kamel Mennour and part of an attempt to define her name against the cliches associated with it, especially the aesthetic cliche that non-Western artists produce only sumptuous, ornamental art. The constant of both shows, the appreciable deja vu that united two otherwise distinct propositions, was the installation A chaque stencil une. revolution (A Revolution for Each Stencil), 2007, a wall covered with sheets of carbon paper (the same installation was exhibited at Tate Modern last fall). A solvent sloshed across the sheets has brightened a band of the midnight blue paper to a hue somewhat closer to International Klein Blue, leaving the runoff to pool on the floor.

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Carbon paper--intended to evoke what the artist describes as "poor man's propaganda," flyers produced on the cheap in third-world countries in the 1960s--is here left blank, or "speechless." The containment of sound was the unifying premise for the other works in the exhibition as well. In Chambre (extrait) (Room [Extract]), 2009, in the main space of the gallery, a collection of fifty identical meter-high foam dihedron mingled with fourteen concrete copies of the same form. The forms are enlarged segments of the material used to texture the walls of acoustic chambers, dampening echoes--a function excessively accomplished by the foam versions, but undermined by their sound-reflecting concrete doubles. The benign appearance of this landscape of ostensibly similar objects, producing and muffling sound in equal measure, belies a war of sonic wills.

It would be tempting to project such a conflict onto Echakhch herself. …

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