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The artist in his environment or how to escape it

By Florence Renault


Tuesday, December 14, 2004 - 7 p.m. - Villa des Arts - Casablanca.


The first visitors arrive to attend the opening of the “Constellation” exhibition, Hassan Darsi locks himself in his showroom with three accomplices, Abdallah Karoun, Pauline Délis and the cat Victor.

Behind the transparency of the Plexiglas which prevents entry into the room, an expanse of fine sand where a golden television (“New Babel”) has run aground, two men, a young girl, a cat. On the other side, visitors begin to arrive, visit the various rooms on the two floors of the Villa des Arts, comment on the work of the artists, current cultural events, exchange socialites... In front of this room closed to their not, but open to their gaze, the most curious linger, trying to seize the moment, the action, something is definitely going to happen... Others pass by, watch, see nothing, or at least nothing which seems to them worth contorting to see beyond the field of vision offered to them: sand, a television covered with gilding, placed awkwardly, as if rescued from a shipwreck.


Official speeches begin.


During this time, the artist and his acolytes begin a “dinner on the sand” in the adjoining space which extends the large hall where “New Babel” sits. In the reflection of the gilding, they can see silhouettes that scan the expanse of the room to see them... in the reflection of the gilding, these same silhouettes can glimpse the protagonists of this camera.


What happens between these four walls?


Hassan Darsi withdraws from the public gaze and highlights both the difficulty of the artist to show his work, and to engage in a real exchange - in the Moroccan context. He withdraws from the exhibition space by locking himself in, in a scene other than the one playing out on the other side of the transparent wall. A parallel scene. A banal scene of companions sharing a convivial moment on a corner of the beach, which becomes by its displacement in the "consecrated" space of the exhibition a particular action, both disturbing and "sacred" by its process of confinement, although composed of the most innocuous acts, eating, drinking, talking...

To extract oneself, to evade the usual and ritual celebration of the opening, to offer the passive spectator a space of perplexity on the scale of the exhibition hall from which he is deliberately excluded... It is precisely there that one can produce the real exchange between the visitor who has come to attend the official opening of the exhibition and the “absent” artist. An exchange commensurate with this deserted expanse of sand, which has become enigmatic and precious, both because it occupies a prestigious place and because of its inaccessibility. An exchange that goes first through the look, and not just any look, the one re-transmitted by golden television, an allegorical reflection of a real but truncated vision of others and of the world. An exchange that has become omnipresent because everything seems to deny it in this seemingly abandoned space, skilfully staged by the artist.


"Making the inaccessible perceptible", such could be the title of this action/performance, but Hassan Darsi does not have this claim and his concerns are much closer to the contextual reality of art and the world than to a emblematic image of the artist haloed with the mystery of creation.

The next day, the visitor, his nose crushed against the plexiglass wall, will be able to glimpse the remnants that remain of this public closed session: a colored fabric, glasses, the cat's kibble, a few sheets of paper where the lines of improvised sketches...


(January 10, 2015)

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