Six questions for
Mounir Fatmi

Tique asks six questions to an artist about their work and inspiration.
This week: Mounir Fatmi.

Artist Mounir Fatmi
Lives in Paris, Lille, Tangier

How do you describe your own art practice?

My artistic practice is primarily a reflection on the status of the artwork between the archive and archaeology. It’s an obsession to turn end-of-life objects like K7 VHS, antenna cables or old typewriters into something new. It is a hope of experimental archaeology, a work on the media dead of an industrial and consumerist civilization in decline: this is what I call “The Ready Dead”. My research then works as a thought on the history of technologies and their influences in popular culture.

Which question or theme is central in your work?

From the beginning of my artistic career I have been interested in three themes, Language, Architecture and The Machine that work for me as keys to question the limits of memory, and to examine the role of the artist and the art in a society in crisis. These three themes especially help me to pose the question of knowledge transfer, and to criticize the illusory mechanisms that bind us to technology and ideologies.

What was your first experience with art?

You know, I spent my childhood in a flea market in Tangier called “Casabarata” where my mother sold children’s clothes. Casabarata is a Spanish-sounding name, which translates to “cheap house”. It is in this environment where the waste and the obsolete objects of consumption are multiplied that I had my first artistic education. Besides, I’ve always compared flea markets to ruined museums. Yes, I can say that I had my first experience with art playing every day next to piles of radios, televisions, photocopying machines that did not work, broken antennas, torn books and clothes worn.

What is your greatest source of inspiration?

I do not have special sources of inspiration, because I do not really believe in inspiration. As I just said, I work and create in a world in crisis and I need more questions than inspirations. These are the questions that help me understand the world. Knowing that every day I want to create everything and at the same time destroy everything. Every day I ask myself this question: Is there still a meaning to what I create or must stop everything? My work is related to the world and when I see that I am going around in circles, I stop and I take the time to think and see what direction should I take?

What do you need in order to create your work?

Hope and time, everything else comes after.

What work or artist has most recently surprised you?

Mona Hatoum, always surprised me and she continues to do it. She is a woman I admire a lot, we met once at the Sharjah Biennale and I was really shy to tell her that.

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