‘Perfume of Traitors’ is French-Arabic artist, poet and writer Tarek Lakhrissi’s first solo show in the UK. The exhibition presents an installation by the artist comprising of a new series of metal sculptures which exist somewhere between swords and signs, continuing the artist’s research into the need to defend oneself as a political practice and building a new language through visual forms.
Lakhrissi works across installation, performance, film, text and sculpture, Lakhrissi engages political and social issues around transformative narratives within language, magic, weirdness, codes and love. Having studied literature, each project Lakhrissi initiates derives from text; Poetry and language being his primary obsession, before translating ideas from these mediums into the visual arts.
Similar to his installation produced for Crac Alsace (2019) and Palais de Tokyo (2020), the metal sculptures shown in ‘Perfume of Traitors’ are able to be wielded, but considered failed or useless because of their blunted manufacturing. The artist considers this romantic self-sabotage a rendering of empowering oneself in a non-threatening and nonviolent way. The works then become a political threat, being wielded by those who are marginalised and affected by oppressive, racist & homophobic politics & societies.
Drawing on pop-culture heroins such as ‘Xena: Warrior Princess’ and ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, the sculptures are styled on mythological weapons, that as well as having a mass sex appeal, signifies power and strength of the individual; throughout his work, Lakhrissi maintains his own identity by folding in signifiers such as this. The sculptures are inscribed with lines of text sourced from the artists own poetry and writing, and arranged across the gallery space to form a word or symbol. This hidden, secondary element remains shrouded as the language is unknown, fabricated by the artist to conceal its meaning from those who are not meant to read it. The space is filled with a toxic green colour giving an ambiguous atmosphere; seen by the artist as a deterrent for some, but a sign of safety for others.
Tarek Lakhrissi, Unfinished Sentence (detail), 2020. 10 metal spears, chains, colour filter, loud speakers. Photography: Aurélien Mole. Tarek Lakhrissi (b. 1992, Châtellerault, FR) is based between Paris, FR and Brussels, BE. He holds a degree in literature from Paris III Sorbonne-Nouvelle, FR and an MA in History of Art from the University of Montreal, CA. He has been nominated for the Matsutani Occident 2019 Prize and the PSC Art Prize. Lakhrissi has had international solo presentations at museums and galleries including: Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, IT; Zabriskie, Genève, CH; Centre d’Art Contemporain, Noisy-Le-Sec, FR.
Further group exhibitions at galleries, museums and biennials internationally include: Palais de Tokyo, Paris, FR; Wiels, Brussels, BE; NIRIN 22nd Biennale of Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney, AU; Baltic Triennial 13, Contemporary Art Centre, Riga, LV & CAC, Vilnius, LT; FIAC, Grand Palais, Paris, FR; CRAC Alsace, Altkirch, FR; Hayward Gallery, London, UK; CAC Brétigny, Brétigny-sur-Orge, FR; Maison Populaire, Montreuil, FR; Musée D’Art Contemporain, Haute-Vienna, FR; Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian, Paris, FR; Auto Italia South East, London, UK; Fondation Lafayette Anticipations, Paris, FR; L’Espace Arlaud, Lausanne, CH; Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome, IT. Residencies include: Maison Populaire, Montreuil, FR (2020-21); Wiels, Brussels, BE (2020); Workspace, Brussels, BE (2020&19); Sophiensaele, Berlin, DE (2020); CND, Pantin, FR (2020); Bundanon Trust, Illaroo, AU (2019); Artspace, Sydney, AU (2019); Kunstencentrum Buda, Courtrai (BE).
Lakhrissi is currently exhibiting in ‘Hard to Love’ at Centre Wallonie Bruxelles, Paris, FR (until April 2021); ‘Yes, a falling tree makes a sound (and it has a lot to say)’ at Kling&Bang, Reykjavik, IS (until May 2021); ‘The many face God·dess (3/3)’ at Maison Populaire, Montreuil, FR (until July 2021); ‘À plusieurs’ at FRAC Lorraine, FR (until August 2021). Forthcoming exhibitions include solo shows at VITRINE, London, UK and MOSTYN, Llandudno, UK (both May 2021). Further upcoming exhibitions include ‘Abundance’ at Het Hem, Amsterdam, NL (May 2021); ‘Sessions’ at Haus der Kunst, Munich, DE (July 2021) and Horst Festival, Brussels/Vilvoorde, BE (July 2021). He has been shortlisted for the 22nd Foundation Pernod Ricard Prize 2021.