Mounir Fatmi
The Blinding Light

Analix Forever, Geneva

May 13, 2013

Mounir Fatmi
The Blinding Light

2 May–2 June 2013

Galerie Analix Forever
2 rue de Hesse
1204 Genève, Switzerland

Some lights enlighten, some blind. The light of The Angel’s Black Leg light does both.

For The Angel’s Black Leg, Mounir Fatmi drew his inspiration from a painting of Fra Angelico titled The Healing of Deacon Justinien (1438–1440, San Marco Museum, Florence). As a posthumous miracle, Saint Côme and Saint Damien, two twin doctors of Arabic origin, converted as Christians in Rome, saved the life of the Deacon by transplanting on his white body the black leg of an Ethiopian who had just died: The Angel’s Black Leg.

Fra Angelico is offering us a miracle story as well as one of his miraculous paintings. With The Blinding Light, Mounir Fatmi is going even further. For him, the Deacon’s survival is not sufficient to fulfill our “need for consolation” (Stig Dagerman). The Ethiopian has to survive too and Mounir Fatmi thus proposes a scientific, aesthetic, political and cultural cross-transplant: the Angel’s “White Leg.” The artist indeed bears the conviction that only civilization—or better said, the civilizations and the fully acknowledged exchanges between them—will allow the Beautiful Language (from the title of another video of the artist), a language both unique or shared, transiting, in The Angel’s Black Leg, from one world to another, from Asia to Florence, from a time to another, from the third century to the Renaissance—from Morocco to France as Fatmi himself.

With this double video projection specifically conceived for the space of gallery Analix Forever as if it were a sanctuary, the light both enlightens and blinds, as a dual, positive-negative, and sublime experience, associating dread to beauty. According to Kant in his Critique of the Power of Judgment: “Is sublime what demonstrates the ability of the soul to move beyond all meanings thanks to the only act of thinking.” And Fatmi’s personal history is indeed about reciprocal cultural and linguistic thinking, knowledge and exchange. “Cultural graft” as painful it might be, is indispensable for the survival of humanity as a whole. This concept of cultural graft runs through all of Fatmi’s artwork.

In The Blinding Light, Fatmi also surprises us with the power of his drawings. Mounir Fatmi, who is well known for his sculptures and installations, has always been drawing, and possesses a indisputable talent for drawing. Drawing is a practice deeply embedded in Fatmi’s major themes: cuts and bounds and cables and communication and Face(s), too. Finally, one more time, Fatmi announces that God is Dead, and that in every mirrors in which we seek him, we will only find ourselves, our only hope for the future: we, human beings, and this blinding light from our own fantasy.