Nick Hackworth

Mounir Fatmi, History is Not Mine, Paradise Row

Essays & Reviews Nowness

A 3D rendering of Salman Rushdie lays motionless, hirsute chest rising up and down with each breath, in Mounir Fatmi’s “Sleep Al Naim,” which reinterprets Andy Warhol’s groundbreaking Sleep (1963) and infuses it with a new, politically potent message. The full six-hour-long video was censored at a show at l’Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris last year, but will premiere this week at Paradise Row as part of his solo exhibition History is Not Mine. “Rushdie lives between different worlds, between countries, between life and death,” says Fatmi. “It is at once boring and voyeuristic to look at someone sleeping for six hours. I want the audience to feel guilty about Rushdie’s destiny.” Paris-based Fatmi was born in Tangiers, Morocco, where he became notorious as a member of a generation of Arab artists—such as Akram Zaatari, Youssef Nabil or Yto Barrada—exploring the codes of conceptual art to question contemporary cultural identity. His work has been exhibited from the Brooklyn Museum to Mathaf in Qatar and has propelled him to the list of nominees for the Victoria and Albert Museum’s 2013 Jameel Prize. Fatmi credits French philosophical titans such as Derrida, Deleuze and Foucault in creating artworks that are at once aesthetically seductive and provocative. “I have never accepted the world as it is,” he says. “We must think the world.”

History is Not Mine runs from April 19 through June 1 at Paradise Row, W1.