Advertisement

‘Come, Come, Come of Age’: Tarik Kiswanson

At Fondation d’entreprise Ricard, Paris, the artist's dialogue with an 11-year-old forms the basis for a work exploring exile and migration

‘It flushed you out against your will and projected you on bright screens,’ I heard a resounding child’s voice recite upon entering Tarik Kiswanson’s exhibition ‘Come, Come, Come of Age’ at the Fondation d’entreprise Ricard. Conceived as a sonic-sculptural installation, this show grew out of an unexpected collaboration. While casting children for an upcoming performance at Lafayette Anticipations, the Swedish-Palestinian artist and writer, who lives between Paris and Amman, met Vadim, an 11-year-old Romanian, French and American boy. Because they both shared a conflicting sense of self due to their multiple linguistic and cultural affiliations, Kiswanson decided to capture what he refers to as his and Vadim’s ‘hybrid voices’. Numerous recording sessions resulted in the sound installation Vadim (all works 2018).

Taking the loose form of a rather sibylline interview in English, Vadim poetically touches upon a number of existential questions: how does it feel to be born, to breath, to see, to move? And implied within them all, what can it possibly mean to come of age for someone whose identity is forever splintered by a history of exile and migration? As a first-generation immigrant whose parents fled Jerusalem before he was born, Kiswanson openly talks about the crushing sensation of belonging nowhere. ‘What can the individual do when he feels filiation with neither one culture nor the other, in my case Arabic and European: he sits down, thinks about those worlds, and starts making a world of his own,’ he told me.

web_fr-2017-tarik-kiswanson-062.jpg

Tarik Kiswanson, ‘Come, Come, Come of Age’, 2018, installation view, Fondation d’entreprise Ricard, Paris. Courtesy: the artist and Fondation d’entreprise Ricard

The artist’s poetic dialogue with a child runs on a 25-minute-long loop from four speakers that are embedded within the walls. Constantly moving from one wall to another across the entire exhibition space, their haunting and sometimes overlapping voices pull the viewer in different directions. This sense of disorientation and discordance finds a solid echo in five stainless steel sculptures, titled ‘Mother Forms’. They represent hyperrealistic, yet non-functional incubators. Three of the sculptures are paired with empty or soldered-shut filing cabinets. Together, they evoke clinical and bureaucratic definitions of life: from the moment we are born, we start generating a trail of administrative papers that follows us until we die. The neonatal units aren’t large enough to contain, let alone nurture, the imposing metallic filing cabinets. The tense spectacle of an impossible fusion unfolds from one piece to the next, each displaying a different configuration. For example, two of the filing cabinets precariously lie on top and over the edge of their respective incubators – one threatening to fall heavily on the floor, the other to break the apparatus’ fragile, transparent lid.

web_fr-2017-tarik-kiswanson-066.jpg

Tarik Kiswanson, ‘Come, Come, Come of Age’, 2018, installation view, Fondation d’entreprise Ricard, Paris. Courtesy: the artist and Fondation d’entreprise Ricard, Paris

Édouard Glissant’s concept of identity as constructed in relation rather than isolation, put forth in his 1990 Poetics of Relation, is crucial to understanding Kiswanson’s work. Like his own personhood, the artist’s aesthetic relies on cultural encounters, interferences and, at times, violent clashes. His world is one of juxtaposition rather than fusion. ‘It’s multiplying, becoming something more,’ we hear Kiswanson say in the sound installation. In this light, the puzzling view of filing cabinets seemingly forcing themselves into various incubators offers a powerful metaphor for how building identity through numerous dislocations may be experienced.

Standing alone in the back of the gallery, another sculpture further illustrates the artist’s notion of hybridity. Birth represents a life-sized young boy. It is modelled after an old wooden mannequin, which the artist found in a flea market in London. After bringing the mannequin back to Paris, he dismantled it, sent the parts to different foundries to be cast in bronze, and re-assembled it. While the resulting figure looks like it could have come out of Kiswanson’s incubators, it finally gives a composite body to his and Vadim’s hybrid voices.

Tarik Kiswanson, ‘Come, Come, Come of Age’ runs at Fondation d’entreprise Ricard, Paris until 21 April.

Main image: Tarik Kiswanson, ‘Come, Come, Come of Age’, 2018, installation view, Fondation d’entreprise Ricard, Paris. Courtesy: the artist and Fondation d’entreprise Ricard, Paris.

Violaine Boutet de Monvel is an art critic and translator who lives in Paris, France. 

Issue 195

First published in Issue 195

May 2018
Advertisement

Most Read

The whisteblower and former intelligence analyst will speak on algorithms’s impact on democracy, LGBTQ rights and...
The arrest of the photojournalist for ‘provocative comments’ over Dhaka protests makes clear that personal liberty...
The auction house insists that there is a broad scholarly consensus that the record-breaking artwork be attributed to...
‘We need more advocates across gender lines and emphatic leaders in museums and galleries to create inclusive,...
In further news: artists rally behind detained photographer Shahidul Alam; crisis talks at London museums following...
Criticism of the show at the Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest comes alongside a nationalist reshaping of the...
A retrospective at Munich’s Museum Brandhorst charts the artist’s career from the 1980s to the present, from ‘fem-trash...
At the National Theatre of Wales, a performance alive with wild, tactile descriptions compels comparison between the...
There are perils in deploying bigotry to score political points, but meanings also shift from West to East
‘It’s ridiculous. It’s Picasso’: social media platform to review nudity policy after blocking Montreal Museum of Fine...
Poland’s feminist ‘Bison Ladies’ storm the Japanese artist’s Warsaw exhibition in solidarity with longtime model Kaori’...
An art historian and leading Leonardo expert has cast doubt on the painting’s attribution
How will the Black Panther writer, known for his landmark critical assessments of race, take on the quintessential...
The dissident artist has posted a series of videos on Instagram documenting diggers demolishing his studio in the...
In further news: artists for Planned Parenthood; US court rules on Nazi-looted Cranachs; Munich’s Haus der Kunst...
A mother’s death, a father’s disinterest: Jean Frémon’s semi-factual biography of the artist captures a life beyond...
Jostling with its loud festival neighbours, the UK’s best attended annual visual art festival conducts a polyphonic...
It’s not clear who destroyed the project – part of the Liverpool Biennial – which names those who have died trying to...
Dating from 1949 to the early 1960s, the works which grace the stately home feel comfortable in the ostentatious pomp...
Nods to the game in World Cup celebrations show how dance has gone viral – but unwittingly instrumentalized for...

On View

Latest Magazines

frieze magazine

April 2018

frieze magazine

May 2018

frieze magazine

June - August 2018