For over a decade, Bouchra Khalili has created lucid constellations across complex geographies of oppression, resistance, failure, yearning, survival, and hope. The stories of forced subjectivities regain their frequency in the breathing spaces she opens. She has been tracing Jean Genet’s politically engaged trajectory of the 1970s, which she included in her artistic work for the first time in Foreign Office (2015). Genet grew up an orphan in the French public welfare system at the beginning of twentieth century. He was formally educated in typography, but soon fled the system. In France, typography was traditionally taken up by the gifted children of workers, who became essential for the circulation of revolutionary ideas among the working class. In The Typographer, a typographer typesets a manuscript note found at the top of the final proofs of Prisoner of Love (1986), Genet’s last book, which wove together his time with the Palestinian fedayeen and the Black Panthers, among other important moments in his life. Shot in 16mm and in black and white, the use of celluloid film highlights the metaphor of cinema as a technique for typesetting images, expanding the nomadic power of words and images to navigate throughout stories, time, and media.
Bouchra Khalili (1975) was born in Casablanca and lives and works in Berlin.
Text by Övül Ö. Durmuşoğlu
Photo credits Tuğhan Anıt