DAK’ART 2014

11ème Biennale de l’Art Africain Contemporain 09/05>08/06

Ali Essafi


Halakat nord-africaines (north African Halakat): video installation screened on the floor, variable dimension, 2014, courtesy of the artist.

Halakat nord-africaines is a video installation that creates a tension between two devices of demonstration: the one contemporary, video installation; the other plunged into the North African memory, the “Halka”. The work attempts to recreate the intimacy, the proximity, and the implication of the spectator. In Halakat nord-africaines the artist pays homage to three pioneering works of the young history of African cinematography: Mohammadia, 1974, directed by Ahmed Bennys (Tunisia) ; Mémoire 14, 1971, directed by Ahmed Bouanani (Morocco), Combien je vous aime, 1985, directed by Azedine Meddour and commented by Abdelkader Alloula (Algeria).
Despite the singularity of the writing of each, these three films share unlimited freedom to tell the personal story of a collective drama. However, the authors choose to anchor their stories in continuity through their use of “halka” storytellers.
The North African “halka” is the oldest local form of artistic expression. It has nothing to do with the old-fashioned Orientalist stereotypes! In public places, the circle of a “halka” is a space of unbridled freedom, where the taboos and the rules of proper conduct are deliberately violated. The storyteller, who never misses an opportunity for provocation, constantly strives to push the limits of the forbidden. “Widen the circle so that God will widen your graves! Blessed be the poet and the storyteller !…” proclaimed A.Bouanani,, the narrator of “Mémoire 14”.
Giving these works the visibility and the prominence that they deserve underlines the fundamental choices that characterize them: the orality or the spirit of “halka” and the metaleptic narration. Both share the common intention to break barriers: the “halka” with the barrier between the spectator and the metalepsis, the barrier between the narrator and the story.

Born in Morocco in 1963, Ali Essafi studied psychology in France and then explore the documentary and Art& Essai cinema. He realizes, among others, "General, here we are", "The Silence of the beet fields", "Ouarzazate Movie" and "Shikhat’s Blues" ... Who have been selected and awarded at various festivals of international cinema. Returned to Morocco, he was for 2 years Artistic Director of the SNRT and runs several workshops on writing documentary film. Commissioned by the 10th Sharjah Art Biennial, "Wanted", his latest production, has been selected in various manifestations of modern art worldwide.

View online : sharjahart.org/people/people-by-alphabet/e/essafi-ali