Mohamed Bourouissa’s (b. 1978, Algeria) work has been shown internationally, in numerous solo and group exhibitions at MMK Museum für Modern Kunst, Frankfurt; the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington; the Museo Nacional de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; the Hayward Gallery, London; the National Gallery of Zimbabwe; the Centre Pompidou; the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; the Palais de Tokyo; the Palazzo Grassi – François Pinault Foundation, Venice; the MAXXI, Rome; the New Museum, New York; the Saatchi Gallery, London; the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art; the Beirut Exhibition Center; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and the SCAD of Atlanta. His work has also been part of the Berlin Biennale and the 54th Venice Biennale. He is represented by kamel mennour, Paris.
The French Algerian artist Mohamed Bourouissa (b. 1978) creates poetic tableaux that critically examine daily life in the inner-city environments of the disenfranchised. Deftly juxtaposing the “grand narratives” of nineteenth-century history painting and elements of urban theater from the field of documentary photography, Bourouissa takes a neorealist approach to artmaking. Gestures and compositions from Delacroix and Géricault serve as a springboard for new narratives featuring black and brown bodies of African and Arab descent. Bourouissa’s practice transcends the conventional ways of reading photography, video, installation, and performance by incorporating contemporary and leading-edge tools such as cell-phone images (featured in his 2009 video-and-photo work Untitled [Temps mort]) and 3D-printed sculptures (featured in his 2012 project L’utopie d’August Sander). The artist skillfully repurposes the vernacular of painting and sculpture, allowing the function and form of his works to exist in a “third space.”
Positing his work in this “third space” enables Bourouissa to create a dynamic visual discourse, encapsulating the delicate tension and innate truths embodied in the complex environments he documents. This is exemplified in his seminal series, Périphérique, created after the incidents of civil unrest in the suburbs (banlieues) of Paris and other French cities in the fall of 2005, presented by the media with a bias against the disenfranchised, perpetuating cultural clichés. Bourouissa’s staged scenes of reportage highlight the suppression of French youth by Nicolas Sarkozy, at that time the country’s minister of internal affairs. His photographs empower their subjects and reflect a reality not being portrayed in the mass media or elsewhere in society at large, shedding light on contradictory stereotypes in contemporary geographic, social, and psychological landscapes: all told, they are an allegory of real-life experience on the societal fringe.