Of the Confused Memory
Exhibition April 27th - June 17th 2017
If we need to talk about Mehdi-Georges Lahlou’s origins, it is because they are at the core of his work.This Franco-Moroccan artist plays to unbraid his genealogy in order to underline its melting pot, and he does that with cleverness. His Moroccan roots influence his choices in matter of themes to approach and materials and motives to employ. He enjoys confusing the codes associating images that evoke pity, wether Catholic or Muslim: Virgins with Child in mashrabiyas, prayer stools, stained- glass windows with Maghreb soldiers... In a larger extent, he interrogates on the permanence of cults and cultures, doomed to disappear but still subsisting thanks to the works that remain, as traces and signs allowing us to conceive them in spirit.
Carried in the beginning of his career by the gender studies and pushing his own body to the limit during performances, he enlarges today this issue to the deconstruction of cultural stereotypes. Mehdi-Georges, whose composed name is already a sign of a double cultural identity, places himself as model and subject of study at once, declining his image through a multiplicity of busts. Playing with the codes to the limits of cliché - chickpeas, couscous grains and tajines as favorite materials - Mehdi- Georges Lahlou places the spectator in an ambiguous position of view, questioning him on his own expectations about the bipolar context that emerges, between Orient and Occident, male and female, Catholic and Muslim. In this way, the artist introduces a more general questioning on the cultural construction of the stereotype, this preconceived opinion, accepted without reflection or critical sense and that determines his ways of thinking, feeling and acting.
The choice of such particular materials, often perishable foodstuff, refers equally to the issue of the permanence of his work and through this one, of our cultures. As a matter of fact, as greek statuary nourished Renaissance, we still have to find what will survive us, which will be the traces that will resist to the time of History. Of the stigmas of the War of 14-18 carried by the Algerians Zouaves and the Moroccan military division, it remains some familiar memories and some photographic negatives.What would we know about our origines if the works we refer to had not passed through the ages?