Marie cantos

“The real tragedy is birth”, he explains with gentle irony. It has to be said that tragedy lies at the heart of Marwan Moujaes’s line of thinking: in the conflicts in the Middle East, whose history — or rather histories, plural — he re-visits; in his actual approach and method, nurtured by ancient Greek theatre. Unity of time, placeand action (plot). Sphinx-like questions, with no answers. Cathartic dimension. Violence, guilt. Excess, too. The artist’s works use codes to create, in the onlooker, the need to, in his/her turn, shed the weight of fate.

Physical restrictions are at work, without us paying heed to them, having an influence on the protagonists on the screen, subtly shaping the circuit within the exhibition areas. We are submerged by the projection of 40 days of mourning (2015), a ready-made video coming from NASA and showing the sun’s activity from 21 August 2013 at 3.15 am— the alleged time of the first deaths following the chemical bombardment of Gotha, in Syria, which caused between 322 and 1,729 victims — to 3 October at 3.15 am, forty days later, forty days of mourning before the soul leaves the body, it is said, and, above all, before the body decomposes. We walk around 54, 55 (2015) several times, to try and glimpse that press photograph hidden by a bunch of flowers, choreographing, in front of the installation, the legitimate delay between the need to inform and the indecency of showing.

Marwan Moujaes’s works scratch like Antigone trying to bury her brother in a ground that is as hard as stone. To initiate the surface of things, and try to shed light on the different layers of memory and ward off the amnesia of human beings by tirelessly reproducing the same schemes. So in the video installation bien-être (2015), the perfume of an Eau de Cologne painfully brings to life an old woman suffering from Alzheimer’s: it is the smell of dead people being washed, like Antigone in her day. In response to the artist, one thinks of Pierre Fédida, writing in L’Absence (1978): “Mourning really sets the word in motion.”

Marie Cantos, 61st salon de Montrouge, France, 2016