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History is not mine

mounir fatmi
History is not mine, 2013
Pigment prints on fine art paper
Work (each): 46 x 70 cm

8 Photographs mounir famti’s photographic series, titled History is not Mine, resumes the narration of his eponymous video. These images, in which a ribbon of blood red is the only color present, depict a man whose face remains concealed as he strikes the keyboard of a typewriter with hammers. This series of photographs, just like the video, can be seen as a direct response to Printemps de Septembre de Toulouse (2012) (Toulouse’s Spring of September) which bore the title L’Histoire est à moi (History is mine). On this occasion, Technologia, mounir fatmi’s installation that combined circular Koranic verses with elements inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s Rotoreliefs, had been withdrawn by the organization following incidents provoked by the public. Similarly, the Sleep Al Naïm video, a tribute to Salman Rushdie, was censored at the Arab World Institute in Paris. These events left a mark on the visual artist and engendered an awareness as well as a “disappointment.” This series of photographs, like a storyboard for the eponymous video, breaks down the action into different shots. This succession of captured images gives a dramatic aspect to the action of hitting a keyboard with hammers. As with the video, the spectator becomes omniscient with this series of photographs by sharing the image of the machine with the artist, and by overlooking the scene with angled shots. With different points of view, the spectator has an interior and exterior view of the piece and the action of striking the machine. By never showing the man’s face, mounir fatmi encourages the viewer to identify with his or her own experience. The photographic series prompts the viewer to become aware of his or her stance vis-à-vis history. Everyone is a participant, without possessing complete control of the situations, but also an observer.