For his exhibition at Palais de Tokyo, Massinissa Selmani has followed in the footsteps of Louise Michel in Algeria and New Caledonia, where this legendary figure of anarchism was deported from 1873 to 1880, after the defeat of the Paris Commune. She not only frequented Kanaks there, whose rebellion she supported, but also the Algerians who had been sent there to a penal colony after the insurrections of March 1871 in Kabylia. Thanks to these encounters, Louise Michel struck up friendships with the deported Algerians and promised to visit them. Thus, from October to December 1904, just a few months before her death, she travelled to Algeria, where she gave a series of talks denouncing religion, militarism and colonial violence.
Taking his inspiration from this little-known historical event, Massinissa Selmani has produced an installation in which omnipresent drawings spill out from the page, to invest the space in various forms. The artist thus raises questions about the current context, communication about revolts and our positioning “regarding the pain of others”, in the words of Susan Sontag.
Massinissa Selmani’s exhibition pursues an experimental project based on drawing, mingling a documentary approach with fictional constructions, while taking as its point of departure contemporary political and social issues from press cuttings. Through confrontation, juxtaposition and even the superposition of actual elements, whose contexts have systematically been concealed, the artist creates enigmatic, ambiguous scenes, bearing witness to the absurdity of human behaviours, or architecture as an instrument of power. By arranging large white spaces on the pages, and playing on effects of transparency and reserve, he invites us to fill in the gaps, to question the way we remember and write history, beyond any linear structure. In this way, he also raises questions about the production process but also the circulation and diffusion of media images, as well as the way they influence our perception of historical and current events.
Curator :Yoann Gourmel
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