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Latifa Echakhch

Derive 32, 2013
acrylic on canvas
200.0 x 150.0 x 2.5 cm
Frequently taking her multiculturalism as the starting point of her artmaking, Latifa Echakhch quite naturally draws inspiration from her Moroccan roots. She reappropriates the traditions and symbols of those roots while shifting them from their original meaning in order to conjure up Orientalist clichés and subtly address the delicate question of the labels used to identify us.

For Grenoble’s Le Magasin contemporary art centre, the artist created the installation Derives in 2007, an intricate path of black lines running over 900 square metres of floor which was traced out using rollers and a finegrade tar. The same year her unstructured tracery invaded the walls with their handsome moulding in the bourgeois flat that serves as an exhibition space for Galerie Interface in Dijon, then proceeded to contaminate a numbered series of identically sized acrylic paintings on canvas in 2009. There the artist worked variations on a star-shaped decorative motif, a traditional ornament inspired by the architectural vocabulary of Moroccan mosques and palaces, which she chose precisely for its infinite reproducibility, “thus attaining the divine and the absolute”.

Echakhch readily indulged in shaking up the motif, shattering its symmetry, excising its intrinsic ornamental character, and letting it develop in an almost chaotic decomposition. The classic arabesque is broken, freed from the yoke of identity politics and culture. It evolves independently, creating a complex graphic network. Echakhch fully exploits the idea of subversion, not only by disobeying the visual norms traditionally associated with this motif and its divine proportions, but also by taking the liberty to lose herself in the fertile ornamentation, calling into question the responsibility and free will of the artist in the creative process.
Latifa Echakhch, Derive 32, 2013