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Saâdane Afif

Press release

Saâdane Afif – Übertitel: Das Heptaeder

Saâdane Afif has pursued concepts of interdisciplinarity and participation for the past 20 years. He states that his work no longer depends on the object, but instead evolves from the “accumulation or interconnection of elements that can be more or less visible”. A synergy emerges between genres and styles, and also between disciplines and fields. As Afif discloses his works and renders them accessible through numerous perspectives, his art defies notions of linear, finite processes. The artworks should be inflected and questioned; they should produce and provoke comments, and thereby persist the exhibition context.       

Running from November 23, 2019, to January 11, 2020, Saâdane Afif’s exhibition at Mehdi Chouakri is titled Übertitel: Das Heptaeder (Surtitle: The Heptahedron). While this multimedia installation provides insight into the artist’s way of working at large, it also continues an exhibition project from 2018: Afif’s solo exhibition This is Ornamental, which was presented at Kunsthalle Wien. 

The Fasanenplatz installation originally stems from a work Afif presented at the 5th Marrakech Biennal in 2014. In the central square of the Moroccan city of Marrakech—amid grocers, acrobats, and jugglers—the artist invited a mathematics teacher to give a geometry lesson. Following the lesson, the teacher offered his wooden polyhedron models for sale. This performance was the starting point for a play Afif commissioned the French writer Thomas Clerc (*1965), which addresses notions of absurdity and abstraction. Yasmine d’Ouezzan (1913-1997) is the play’s protagonist; she was the winner of the first women’s billiards championship and the muse of numerous artists of her time. 

It is within this microcosm of fiction and reality, as well as historical reappraisal and creativity, that Saâdane Afif creates the room-filling installation now on show at Fasanenplatz. Geometric wooden figures—reminiscent of the teacher’s lesson on Djemaa el Fna Square—are displayed in a showcase; and referring to the presentation at Kunsthalle Wien, a large-format photograph visualizes the play’s protagonist Yasmine on a yellow, wooden construction. A supplementary journal, presented on a console, explores a variety of details from the Franco-Moroccan princess’ ambivalent life. Analogous to opera and theatre, the script of the play The Heptahedron is displayed on a large-format LED screen—it becomes the exhibition’s eponymous “surtitle”. Chairs based on the shape of the seven faces of the heptahedron are presented as objects in the room. The design of the chairs associates them with the text’s subject matter, and—given the similarity to furniture designs by Donald Judd—also draws a direct connection to the history of form. Generally reflecting Afif’s artistic practice of recent years, the exhibition comprises both new works and preexisting concepts that are developed further. Next year, the project will be continued at the Fondation d’entreprise Ricard in Paris.

The play’s eight characters inspired the fashion collection “SOLID FIGURES”, which was released in collaboration with Starstyling Berlin. The apparel is officially integrated into the fashion label’s fall/winter collection and simultaneously forms part of the artist’s oeuvre. The presentation of the collection took  place in the Starstyling boutique on Wednesday, November 20, 2019. Afterwards, Saâdane Afif was talking about his work with the curator Clara Meister at Spike Art Magazine. The conversation Yasmine d’Ouezzan & the seven faces of the heptahedron: an odyssey? took place in a performance-like setting where actors, dressed as characters from the play, asked questions about the project.