Meriem Bennani: MISSION TEENS — at C L E A R I N G, Brussels

Meriem Bennani
Avenue Van Volxemlaan 311,
1190 Brussels, Belgium
February 11 – March 27, 2021
All images copyright and courtesy of the artist(s) and C L E A R I N G, Brussels, © Eden Krsmanovic

Originally commissioned for the 2019 Whitney Biennial, this presentation features Neighborhood Goggles, a pair of brightly colored totemic sculptures with inset video screens. These sculptural viewing apparatuses invite the spectator to peer into an animation of lively houses sang by the Moroccan rapper Lil Patty. Comically anthropomorphized, the houses tell their stories and share the habits of their occupants, creating a portrait of the impact of affluence and aspiration in Rabat. Two pushbutton activated screens alternate playback so that when one hits the start button of a screen the other screen stops playing. This gives rise to a power dynamic between the viewers, mimicking the relationships of power at large that resonate throughout the 36 minutes video MISSION TEENS: French School in Morocco, on view here in the back of the gallery.

After being presented at the Whitney Museum as a video viewing garden and later at the Louis Vuitton Foundation in an immersive installation, MISSION TEENS: French School in Morocco follows a group of students from the Lycée Descartes, the French high school in Rabat, Morocco. Through documentary-style footage, we gain insight into the personal and social dynamics of these teenagers’ everyday lives, revealing through testimonies how the education system inherited from French colonization in Morocco remains reserved to the local elite. Through the eyes of a donkey, the artist’s animated avatar behind the camera, Bennani explores postcolonial contemporary society, its fractured identities as well as cultural disparities.

Meriem Bennani (b. 1988 in Rabat, Morocco) lives and works in Brooklyn. She received her BFA from Cooper Union, New York in 2012, and her MFA from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, Paris in 2011. Solo exhibitions of her work have been held at The Kitchen, New York; Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris; Art Dubai; MoMA PS1, New York; Julia Stoschek, Berlin and C L E A R I N G New York. Her work has been featured in numerous group exhibitions including Whitney Biennial, New York; Biennale de l’Image en Mouvement, Geneva / Turin; Public Art Fund, New York; Shanghai Biennale; Jewish Museum, New York; Saatchi Gallery, London; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Museum Dhondt Dhaenens, Ghent, etc.

Meriem Bennani’s work is part of the collections of the MoMA, New york; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris; Fondation Cartier, Paris; Julia Stoschek, Berlin; Kadist Foundation, Paris; FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, Reims and FRAC Ile-de-France, Paris.