In this breakthrough series of photographs, Mohamed Bourouissa chooses to appropriate the codes of painting from art history. The artist composed his photos by staging scenes with his friends and acquaintances in the Parisian suburbs (banlieues), where they used to hang out.
Invoking the imagery of widely recognized works from mainstream art history – referencing anyone from Eugène Delacroix to Jef Wall – the artist deliberately positions and gives agency to those who have, actively or otherwise, been written out of foundational national histories, particularly in France.
Confrontations, gatherings, incidents, eye-lines, and frozen gestures all suggest a palpably dramatic tension, as if to capture a moment on the brink. The series, which began in 2005, the same year as the violent riots in the banlieues, also carries with it an added weight of mirroring fraught socio-cultural issues.
The artist’s participation is made possible with support from Alliance Française and Institut Français.