‘Perfume of Traitors’ is French 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 that 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, engaging in 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 visual art.
The work of French writer Jean Genet has been a large influence on Lakhrissi’s work and life. For ‘Perfume of Traitors’, Lakhrissi has drawn on the philosophy of betrayal that Genet’s seminal novel ‘The Thief’s Journal’ contemplates and explores through an autobiographical story of love and deceit. In the artist's own reading of the text, he comes to the conclusion that “in order to be free, you have to betray; you have to be a traitor to be free.” This notion is encapsulated within each hanging steel sculpture. 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. In the process of designing the sculptures, Lakhrissi wanted to reveal the one lodged in the back, a gesture to the saying ‘stabbed in the back’, a violent synonym of betrayal. The designs are then distorted in romantic self-sabotage to render them useless; empowering oneself in a non-threatening and non-violent way.
Drawing on pop-culture heroines 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. The sculptures are arranged across the gallery space to be reminiscent of a language 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. The installation spans Vitrine’s 16 metre window space which is viewable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from Bermondsey Square.
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; Centre Wallonie Bruxelles, Paris, 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 his first solo show in the UK ‘Perfume of Traitors’ at Vitrine, London. Further current exhibition include: ‘Abundance’ at Het Hem, Amsterdam, NL (until May2021); ‘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 a solo show at Mostyn, Llandudno, UK, and the group shows ‘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.