Produced within the framework of the Sam Art Prize (Sam Art Projects, Paris), Foreign Office combines a digital film, a series of photographs and a silkscreen print entitled The Archipelago. This new body of works responds to the reflection developed by the artist for a decade in Algiers. It is about gestures and discourses of resistance as elaborated and narrated by members of minorities.
With Foreign Office, Khalili focuses on the period during which Algiers — between 1962 and 1972 — became the “capital of revolutionaries”. There are many representations of many liberation movements from Africa, Asia and the Americas, such as Eldridge Cleaverʼs International Section of the Black Panther Party, Mandela’s ANC, or the PAlGC (African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde) founded by Amílcar Cabral.
It takes as a starting point this forgotten part of post-independent Algeria, Foreign Office and the pieces forming it. It invites to reflect on history and its transmission, utopia as a narrative shaped by the feeling of loss, and language as a storytelling engine. The film shows two young Algerians “re-writing” this history through language, poetry, and “montage”. It offers ultimately an alternative historiography shaped by translation as a form of writing. The series of photographs document the ghostly places that once hosted the representations of these liberation movements, revealing the hollow dissipation of utopia, though it still continues to haunt those places, and potentially the present-time. The silkscreen print entitled The Archipelago operates as a “montage” articulation between the film and the series of photographs, offering an “archipelique” map of Algiers drawn from the perspective of the geographical dissemination of the liberation movements throughout the city.
The local geography of these movements — that respects the scale and the distances — is “translated” into island formations whose shapes are derived from and mirror the architectural structure of each movements’ headquarters. This Archipelago functions as a poetic transposition of what used to be international solidarity: An “All-World” as defined by Edouard Glissant, composed of solitary islands which form a bigger and all-encompassing world, though its language is nevertheless that of a lost “Atlandide”, whose acronyms as they appear on The Archipelago are the unreadable last traces. Foreign Office as a body of work is thus a combination of fragments, in which “montage” as a narrative, conceptual, and poetical practice, embodies potential gestures of resistance for the present-time, and potentially for the future.
Born in 1975, Casablanca, Morocco.
Lives and works in Berlin, Germany and Oslo, Norway.