As a starting point of this exhibition, a definition.
That of the French philosopher Jacques Derrida: the archive is a “social object that shapes the present, the past and the future”.
The concept of archive sensible concerns the archives relating to intimate, familial, domestic, individual or collective memories. Which, in this sense, confront emotional experiences as sources of knowledge. The exhibition Archive(s) sensible(s) is based on this idea and especially offers the visitor an experience and a reflection on the sensitive world.
The exhibition consists of three axes, three concepts induced by this archive sensible.
The first interrogates the archive as a form of memory and the underlying selection it implies: what is archive and what is not archive? It is in its absence that the concept of archives is often of great importance. How does memory build up without archives?
The exhibition focuses on the writings of a story without an archive: through the destruction or the deprivation of archives, it is a memory in its own right that is denied and questioned. How is a history written without archives, in destruction (during historical periods of domination like colonization or fascism) or in the privation of archives?
This is exactly the question asked by the Tunisian artist Héla Ammar in the series Tawasol.
Tawasol, which means in Arabic both correspondence, but also transmission, is pronounced as a reconstructed or imagined correspondence and is interested in interactions and distortions and what they include as faults of collective and individual memory. For the artist, it is precisely in these defects, through these sensitive fragments, that the individual memory and the collective imagination are built.
The archive sensible, which is a question of memory becomes a real tool of resistance to the frameworks of dominance. The sensitive archives, neither physical nor documentary, are traces, intangible imprints that as well are transmissible. These are pointers to what happened. Sensory, memory, individual and collective signals associated with emotion, which constitute a form of archive with political potential.
Artists M’Barek Bouhchichi and Abdessamad El Montassir explore this political potential of archive sensible by sharing muted stories.
Therefore, through his sculptural installation Re-enactment Act III, M’Barek Bouhchichi repairs the traditional object represented by the Arabic ceiling and dissects it to make visible the geometric system, to expose its workings, as a metaphor of society, such a silent document in the face of our modernity.
The artist Abdessamad El Montassir reactivates unknown narrations and writes an alternative story. His sound installation Al Amakine revives the immaterial archives of the Moroccan Sahara, made invisible. Transmitted orally by local people in a poetic language, these testimonies tell about the political, cultural and social events of a given geographical zone.
Finally, the archive sensible will be considered in its poetic dimension: an archive of the unseen which seeks to represent the sensitive. This archive questions what is given to see; beyond the picture and the colors, for what do we see in the work and what does it give us to see?
Tunisian artist Haythem Zakaria focuses on this archive of the invisible. His sound installation ATLAS // Opus.O generated with the help of a modular synthesizer automatically generates an infinite archive of sounds. Sounds which will never be the same and which will thus be able to exist infinitely. An excerpt from this recording is made available to the exhibition visitor.
The video Axis Mundi II questions, in turn, what is shown: what is behind the familiar appearance of some timeless places?
In the video Contact Aveugle, which closes the exhibition, is a sensitive archive of the invisible, an almost impossible archive, that the artist Mustapha Azeroual tries to lead. The latter is made by documenting the progressive blindness of a camera sensor by the action of light, essential condition of the visible until its destruction.
In the print taken from the series Monade by Mustapha Azeroual, the shadows of light impacts emerge to the eye of the visitor, archive of imprints, of invisible actions. The artist reactivates this work into darkness with a black light.
This journey, between image, sound and light, summons the senses of each one and invites us to rethink the archive, the arkhé, not only as a social order but also and especially as the place where something happens…
Laura Scemama, curator of the exhibition.
Archive(s) Sensible(s) is supported by the Institut Français du Maroc, SCAC (Service de Coopération et d’Action Culturelle de l’Ambassade de France au Maroc) and Wallonie-Bruxelles International.
Leaflet of the exhibition