Let me introduce Hanane el Farisi to you, a young artist, living between Brussels, Belgium and her country of origin, Morocco. Her works are often linked to traditional objects and rituals, rooted within her culture, thus touching her society in a subtle way. At a first glance this seems unspectacular, but through small twists her works unveil el Farisis’ radical way of thinking and creating. For a woman, raising her voice in a feminist and sociocritical way and building bridges to nowadays issues of politics and society, is still very rare and courageous in an Arab country and male dominated society like Morocco. Over the years a differentiated and multidisciplinary body of work emerged on her career path.
El Farisis’ artistic spirit captured me since I had seen the «unseen» of her work in a little exhibition space outside Marrakesh within the André Heller «Anima Park». Fragile paper works with the word «memory», written in Arabic letters and referring to different poetic images, were nearly invisibly embroidered with her own (pubic) hair. Photographs, souvenirs of her father, were covered with strips of adhesive tape, so that the male figures depicted, were no more visible. On the one hand, this meant to preserve a memory, on the other hand, it erased images of the past. One could easily pass by these works, looking for the big throw somewhere else and miss this very subtle allusion, very appropriate to its creator, as I realized when meeting her personally at my studio visit in June 2022 in Brussels.
Encountering this sensitive and at the same time strong woman and talking about some of her works and attitudes, often departing from societal habitudes and outlining their double meaning, touched me deeply and I share some of them with you. «Bye bye bakchich system» is an early work, where the artist performs in a kaftan-like white dress. She purifies the image of a weakened, corrupted body with seawater in front of the municipality, encouraging the public to ask questions about abuse and injustice. Her installation «Black Powder» on a first glimpse reminds of a female boudoir, with oriental Kajal containers and some Kohl (black powder) dusted around, after applying make-up. The Kajal containers are hung in the form of a traditional harem entrance. They are shaped similarly to male weapons and the carbon powder used is identical to that for gunpowder. Female warfare in a double sense? The topic on women’s role between beauty and career is evolved in «Between talent and heel». High heels of elegant women sandals are replaced with sharp knives. The narrow path between beauty, charm, talent and powerplay. Finally, the conventionality and bourgeoisie of people are depicted within «Basculement»: Two cupboards, on first sight a quite normal middle-class setting, with one slightly tilted, show porcelain plates. Within the conservative patterns of these everyday dishes strange little paintings appear: a gallows under a tree, a guillotine, guns covering the flower pattern on the plate edge, etc.
What I admire very much is the awareness and fine humor of Hanane el Farisi in her work. A radiant young artist, very reflective about our society and the role of women. When she points things out, it is never accusatory and with a big gesture, but always in her subtle and tongue-in-cheek way, starting from her inner images and everyday objects. And attempting to heal how we act within our society. Looking forward to discovering more of her.