Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art presents a solo survey show of new and existing work by artist Mohamed Bourouissa (b. 1978, Blida, Algeria). The exhibition will be Bourouissa’s first solo show with a UK public institution and includes a selection of works across photography, sound, installation and moving image, made since 2003.
Bourouissa, recipient of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2020, is known for confronting complex socio-economic issues and for seeking out tensions between different social contexts. In-depth research, including long periods of engagement with specific locales and groups, inform works that question collective histories, uses of public space, and representational identities. His celebrated work Horse Day (2014-15) is included in the exhibition, which saw the artist live for eight months among a low-income community in North Philadelphia to create an event and film with the horse riders of its urban stables – making, as he terms it, a contemporary American cowboy movie. The charged legacies of colonialism, and contemporary realities of racial and socioeconomic inequality, are present throughout Bourouissa’s work; including the recent Brutal Family Roots (2020), which fuses hip-hop with installation to track patterns of exchange between Britain, Australia, France and Algeria, through the spread of the Acacia tree species.
Throughout his work, Bourouissa builds poetics by examining contemporary society; often documenting disenfranchised groups and individuals who have been “left behind at the crossroads of integration and exclusion”, but who use the tools at their disposal to navigate their situation. For example, a new work HARA!!!!!!hAAARAAAAA!!!!!hHARAAA!!! (2020) abstracts the invented word ‘hara’ used by young lookouts to alert drug dealers of approaching police in Marseilles. The distorted word becomes a sound installation in the vein of concrete poetry.
The presentation of Bourouissa’s work in the context of the gallery brings into relief different circulations of images and their economies. These circuits, their violence and corruptibility, are exploited and disrupted in works such as ALL IN (2012) and Shoplifters (2014). In these, as with all his works, Bourouissa moves between different modes of photographic and filmic techniques with irreverence and instinct. From grainy smartphone images in works like Temps Mort (2008-9) – in which the artist exchanged images, videos and messages with an incarcerated friend – to street photography in Nous Sommes Halles (2003-5), and canonical art historical framings of Parisian street life via Delacroix in the series Périphéries (2006-8); each mode and medium is exploited for its ability to conceptually articulate incisive statements on contemporary image culture and a racialised social fabric of inequality.
MOHAMED BOUROUISSA Goldsmiths CCA 29th January – 18th April 2021