Emerging from the fragments of grey on a round projection screen is the image of an expressive head: a wooden sculpture of a (seated? looks like he’s standing…) man. A woman begins speaking. Her abrupt sentences give rise to a soliloquy directed at the sculpture. Close-ups of the sculpture alternate with a view of the woman’s mouth as she speaks.
The voice in Messing Encounters (2020-2021) proves to be that of an African immigrant in Belgium addressing a nineteenth-century Congolese sculpture at the Africa Museum in Tervuren. The Nkisi Nkonde ‘nail-statue’ was taken from the village Kikuku in 1878. The figure, said to have magical powers, wears a coat of nails and bits of cloth and rope. “I need a science to know you. I need a science to take you into the future,” says the woman. The words are as restrained as they are gripping: they express uprootedness, cultural appropriation, displacement, and the call for a language and science for redefining images. “You are held hostage in this museum. With you, our science is hostage. Our technology, our magic is hostage. Our horizon and our land. You must be recovered to recover the trees, the sky, color. Even color is a hostage. Blue is hostage. Red is hostage. Black is hostage. You are a future object. In the future you can reappear to your public, to those who will invent a language to describe you.“
In his second solo exhibition at the gallery, You’re your country’s lost property with no office to claim you back, Hamza Halloubi presents an installation consisting of recent videos and paintings. In his work he makes unexpected connections between minor and major artistic and political events. This involves a portrayal of the complex relationship between art and power, between identity and representation. The work aims not to aestheticize or illustrate today’s cultural discourse, but to render images that reverse the position of the viewer.
Hamza Halloubi is a multi-disciplinary artist with a focus on video and painting. He was born in Morocco in 1982, and lives and works in Brussels and Amsterdam. Solo exhibitions of Halloubi were on view at a.o. Argos, Brussels (2021, BE); Museum De Pont, Tilburg (2020, 2015, NL); L’appartement 22, Rabat (2019, MO); Museo Hermann Nitsch, Naples (2017, IT); c-o-m-p-o-s-i-t-e, Brussels (2017 and 2014, BE); A Tale of A Tub, Rotterdam (2016, NL); KIOSK, Ghent (2014, BE); Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (2013, BE). His works were also part of group exhibitions at a.o. M – Museum Leuven (2021, BE); S.M.A.K., Ghent (2019, BE); Centre Pompidou, Brussels (2019, BE; Kunsthal Extra City, Antwerp (2018, BE); Mystetskyi Arsenal, Kyiv, (2018, UA); SCHIRN KUNSTHALLE FRANKFURT, Frankfurt (2018, DE); De Pont Museum, Tilburg (2017, NL); Witte de With, Rotterdam, (2016, NL); EYE Filmmuseum, Amsterdam (2016, NL). Halloubi’s work is part of national and international collections.