Les Monuments, photograph,
26.4 x 47.2 cm. /10.4 x 18.6 inches, edition 100, signed and numbered, 2017
Propaganda, cassettes VHS, 22.1 x 15.1 cm. /8.7 x 5.9 inches, edition 25, signed and numbered, 2017
DADA Chapelet, silver, pearl,
cotton, velvet pouch, 56 cm. /22 inches long, edition 99, signed and numbered, 2016
Mixology, calligraphed vinyl LP, record sleeve, edition 50, signed and numbered, 2014
(...) the black vinyl of the records is decorated with circular Hadit from the prophet, painted in white on the grooved surfaces.
Arabic verses are a recurring motif in mounir fatmi's work, recontextualized and reworked so as to question their meaning and transform them into purely decorative elements. They morph to become graceful patterns, contrasting with the backdrop against which the artist is showing them: circular saw blades, photocopiers, or, as in this case, records. The circular forms draw on Duchamp's Rotoreliefs, circles with black and white designs which create dizzying visual effects when spun.
The visuals are accompanied by the records' music, which is distorted as the vinyl spins: the record-player's needle peels away at the paint between the grooves, creating a new, rather uncomfortable, sound. The clash between music and text is brutal – representing cultural difference and also the age-old arch-rivals: pleasure and religion. This violent contrast is perfectly intentional, as mounir fatmi explains, "the first meeting between cultures can only be violent".
Like much of fatmi's work, Mixology juxtaposes the Occident
with the Orient. This is reinforced by the predominantly black and white
aesthetic, contrasting the white Arabic verses against the black of the vinyl
and mixing table. The conceptual contrast, however, is far from black and white.
Concerned with the spread of globalisation, the artist exposes the increasing lack of comprehension between cultures, and makes a subtle plea for enlightened tolerance. Instead of trying to send a clear message, Mixology, like much of fatmi's work, aims to destabilise established attitudes and encourage discussion.