NEWS / 2017

Dor Zlekha Levy, screening, ‘I Heard You Laughing’ at Kadist, Paris


Screening I Heard You Laughing curated by
Myriam Ben Salah and Martha Kirszenbaum
Followed by a Conversation with artist Meriem Bennani


Artists from the Middle East are often associated with narratives of struggle and rhetoric of the past. Some end up making works that are almost a response to a Western “tacit commission”—as coined by Moroccan scholar Mohamed Rachdi—arbitrarily linking authenticity with traumatic storytelling. ‘I Heard You Laughing’ borrows its title from 14th century Persian poet Hafez’s book “I Heard God Laughing,” where he lauded the joys of love, humor and irony, three clogged pillars of Middle-Eastern culture that are making a controversial comeback in the works of a younger generation of artists from the region.


The screening reflects on the importance of popular culture, the omnipresence of technologies and the role of music and dance, while tackling a form of vernacular disorientalism and conveying a certain digital cosmopolitanism. It comprises selected music videos from iconic Middle-Eastern musicians of the 1950s-60s-70s alongside video works by contemporary artists that reflect the complexities of this often oversimplified ‘East-West’ configuration.


Bendaly Family, Do You Love Me? , 1978, 3:32 min

Meriem Bennani, Fardaous Funjab, 2015, S1 EP1 7:15 min

Fairuz, Laylit Eid (Jingle Bells), c.1965, 2:51 min

Sarah Abu Abdallah, Out to Lunch, 2013, 9:54 min

Dor Zlekha Levy, The Tarab Prince, 2014, 1:49 min

Fatima Al Qadiri and Khalid Al Gharaballi, MENDEEL UM A7MAD (NxIxSxM), 2012, 15:50 min

Meriem Bennani, Fly, 2016, 17:32 min

Googoosh, Pishkesh, live on Manoto TV, 1972, 3:30 min


Meriem Bennani (b. 1988 in Rabat, Morocco, lives and works in New York City) has been developing a shape-shifting practice of films, installations and immersive environments, interlacing references to globalized popular culture (music, reality TV, fashion) with the vernacular and traditional representation of her native Morocco’s culture and visual aesthetics that she captures with her iPhone. Composed with a wry humor and a subtle agility to misappropriate the cliche?s of Middle-Eastern culture, her work questions our contemporary society and its fractured identities, gender issues and ubiquitous dominance of digital technologies. Music and dance are at the core of Bennani’s video work, such as in the animation iButt (2015) where an apple shakes to the sound of belly dance music; or the presence of Lebanese pop singer Haifa Wehbe in her web series Fardaous Funjab(2015). Female presence is a very strong element throughout her visual realm, and particular the female characters of her family who are featured in most of her pieces. In Fardaous Funjab, a satire based on a reality TV show depicting a hijab designer, the main character is played by her mother, and, in Fly, she captures her grandma and aunt. The tools that Meriem Bennani uses in her work, such as humor and de?tournement, are in fact deeply engaged ways of dealing with identity politics, but with an infinite sense of distance and self-derision.


Martha Kirszenbaum(b.1983, Vitry-sur-Seine, France) is a curator and writer based in Los Angeles, where she was the Director and Curator of Fahrenheit, an exhibition space and residency program (2014-16). She graduated from Sciences Po in Paris and Columbia University in New York, and worked at Media Department of MoMA in New York (2006-07), the Photography Department of Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (2007) and at the New Museum in New York (2008-10). Additionally, she collaborated with the Center for Contem- porary Art in Warsaw, the Belvedere Museum/21er Haus in Vienna, the Marrakech Biennale, Palais de Tokyo in Paris and the Kunsthalle Mulhouse. Kirszenbaum is a regular contributor to Flash Art, CURA, Kaleidoscope and Mousse, and has led seminars on curatorial practice at the Universite? Paris VIII and Parsons, Paris.


Myriam Ben Salah (b.1985, Algiers, Algeria) is a curator and writer based in Paris, where she has been coordinating special projects and public programs at Palais de Tokyo since 2009, focusing especially on performance art, video and publishing initiatives. She is the Editor in Chief of KALEIDOSCOPE magazine’s International Edition. She co-edits F.A.Q., a periodical image-only magazine with artist Maurizio Cattelan, and her writings have appeared in numerous international art publications. Her latest curatorial projects include Cool Memories (Occidental Temporary, Paris, 2016), Like the Desert Miss the Real (Galerie Steinek as part of « Curated-by », Vienna, 2015), Dirty Linen (DESTE Foundation at the Benaki Museum, Athens, 2015), Shit and Die (Palazzo Cavour as part of Artissima collateral program, Turin, 2014).


29-06-2017 - 29-06-2017