Between Circles and Constellations, an exhibition curated by Elvira Dyangani Ose and Hiuwai Chu, brings together the projects of Bouchra Khalili (born in Casablanca in 1975, lives and works in Berlin and Vienna) from the last ten years, including film, video, installation, photography and silkscreen printing and editorial platforms. Language and speech are an essential part of Khalili's investigations and are employed as a powerful form of resistance against hegemonic powers. Through a constant dialogue between history and the present, the show reflects on belonging, civic action, political agency and the need for what the artist calls radical citizenship. Her proposals invite us to meditate on the complex relationships between poetry, orality, performance as a form of visibility, and on the place occupied by Position of the storyteller as a witness to history.
The exhibition is conceived as a constellation in which works are interconnected through their shared reflections on belonging and political agency, as well as through a compilation of key figures from history and postcolonial unarchived material, who appear and reappear in the artists works as haunting ghosts. In her artistic projects, Khalili explores ways to recover what has been suppressed or not documented in hegemonic history, weaving together first-person accounts that are rooted in oral tradition as a method of producing history. The very title of the exhibition, Between Circles and Constellations, refers to two essential aspects of Khalilis work. On the one hand, to Al-Halqa, literally the circle or the assembly, a centuries-old tradition of storytelling in public spaces in Morocco, in which socio-political interests, collective fabulation, and aspects of popular culture are interwoven. Al-Halqa can also be understood as a metaphor for Khalili's practice: a multimedia production that combines narratives deployed in multiple layers and genres, in different languages and dialects, conveying communal memories and narratives, both historical and present.
An internationally renowned artist, Khalili has exhibited at MoMA (2016), at the Palais de Tokyo (2015), the work Garden Conversation at MACBA (2015) and has participated in Documenta 14 (2017), the 55th Venice Biennale (2013), the Sydney Biennale (2012) and the Sharjah Biennial (2011), among others. She is represented in the recently inaugurated Sharjah Biennial, and will participate in ARCOmadrid as an adviser, together with Hila Peleg, in the programme curated by Marina Fokidis, in which the Mediterranean is the central theme. This exhibition at MACBA
is centered around a core question: Who is a witness to history? This question runs throughout Khalili's artistic practice and is to be found in the multiple layers that make up her projects of the last ten years, and which are brought together for this exhibition: The Constellations Series (2011); The Speeches Series (201213); Foreign Office (2015); The Archipelago (2015); The Tempest Society (2017); Twenty-Two Hours (2018); The Radical Ally (2019); A Small Suitcase (2019); The Typographer (2019); The Magic Lantern Project (2022); and The Circle (2023).
Bouchra Khalili was born in Casablanca, Morocco in 1975. She lives and works in Berlin and Vienna. She graduated in Film & Media Studies at Sorbonne Nouvelle and in Visual Arts at the Ecole Nationale dArts de Paris-Cergy.
Encompassing film, video, installation, photography, printmaking and publishing, Khalilis practice explores imperial and colonial continuums as epitomised by contemporary instances of illegal migration and the politics of memory of anti-colonial struggles and international solidarity. Deeply informed by the legacy of post-independence avant-gardes and the vernacular traditions of her native Morocco, Khalilis approach develops strategies of storytelling at the intersection of history and micro-narratives. Combining documentary and conceptual practices, she investigates questions of self-representation, autonomous agency and forms of resistance of communities rendered invisible by the nation-state model.
Khalili has had many international solo exhibitions, including: FFT Düsseldorf (2022); Bildmuseet, Umea (2021); Oslo Kunstforening and Fotogalleriet, Oslo (2020); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2019); Museum Folkwang, Essen (2018); Jeu de Paume, Paris (2018); Secession, Vienna (2018); CAAC, Sevilla (2017); Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus (2017); MoMA, New York (2016); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2015); MACBA, Barcelona (2015); PAMM, Miami (2013).
Her work was also included in collective international showings such as the 2nd Lahore
Biennial (2020); the 12th Bamako Biennial (2019); BienalSur, Buenos Aires (2019); Documenta 14, Athens, Kassel (2017); the Milan Triennale (2017); the 55th Venice Biennale (2013); La Triennale, Paris (2012); the 18th Biennale of Sydney (2012); and the 10th Sharjah Biennial (2011).
She has participated in numerous collective exhibitions in international institutions such as the
Fondazione Sandretto, Turin (2021); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2021); CAM, St. Louis (2021); Art Sonje Center, Seoul (2020); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2018, 2020); Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen (2019); Cardiff National Museum (2018); MAXXI, Rome (2018, 2021); MCA, Sydney (2016); Kunsthaus, Zurich (2015); Van AbbeMuseum, Eindhoven (2014); New Museum, New York (2014); Carré dArt, Nîmes (2013); Tropen Museum, Amsterdam (2013); Haus Der Welt, Berlin (2010, 2013); Hayward Gallery, London (2012); South London Gallery (2012); Cité Internationale de lImmigration, Paris (2012); Beirut Art Center (2011); Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon (2011); Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid (2008).
In 2022, she received the inaugural Terry Riley Humanitarian Award. A nominee of the Guggenheims Hugo Boss Prize (2018) and the Artes Mundi Prize (2018), she was also the recipient of the Harvards Radcliffe Institute Fellowship (201718), the Ibsen Award (2017), the Abraaj Art Prize (2014), the Sam Art Prize (2013), daad Artists-in-Berlin (2012) and the Vera List Center for Art and Politics Fellowship, New York (201113). In 2023, shes nominated for the Marcel Duchamp Prize and the Aware Prize.
She is a Professor and Head of Department of Artistic Strategies at die Angewandte University in Vienna, and a founding member of La Cinémathèque de Tanger, an artist-run non-profit organization devoted to preserving and promoting film culture in Northern Morocco.