Bouchra Khalili

Bouchra Khalili (b. 1975, Morocco) is a Moroccan-French artist who lives and works in Berlin. Her work articulates language, subjectivity, orality, and geographical explorations to focus on strategies and discourses of resistance as elaborated and narrated by members of political minorities. Her recent international solo shows include Foreign Office, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2015); Garden Conversation, MACBA, Barcelona (2015); and Living Labor, PAMM, Miami (2013). Recent group exhibitions include Here & Elsewhere, the New Museum, New York (2014); The Encyclopedic Palace, the 55th Venice Biennale (2013); La Triennale, Intense Proximity, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012); the 18th Biennale of Sydney (2012); and the 10th Sharjah Biennial (2011). She has received the Abraaj Group Art Prize 2014, the Sam Art Prize 2014, the DAAD-Artist in Berlin (2012), and the Vera List Center for Art and Politics Fellowship, the New School, New York (2011–2013).

Foreign Office, 2015
Film, 20 min; photography, variable dimensions; The Archipelago, silkscreen print mounted on aluminum, 50 x 70 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Polaris, Paris.

Bouchra Khalili presents a selection of her body of work entitled Foreign Office that comprises a digital film, a series of photographs, and a silkscreen print. Produced in Algiers, this body of work investigates the decade (1962–1972) when the city was the “capital of revolutionaries,” hosting the headquarters of liberation movements from Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

The film shows two young Algerians “re-writing” this history through images and language, suggesting a historiography shaped by cinematic montage, translation, and poetry to reflect on history and its resonances. The photographs document the sites that once hosted those liberation movements, revealing the ghostly absence-presence of utopia that still continues to haunt the present.

The silkscreen print The Archipelago maps Algiers from the geographical dissemination of these liberation movements, “translating” the architectural structure of each movement’s headquarters into island formations. This archipelago transposes both an “All-World” as defined by Édouard Glissant, as well as a lost “Atlantis,” which the acronyms of liberation movements mirror its extinct language. Foreign Office thus forms a combination of fragments suggesting an alternative historiography of utopias reflecting on emancipation in the present, and potentially the future.


Foreign Office (2015), Installation view Röda Sten Konsthall, GIBCA 2015. Photo: Hendrik Zeitler