Serpentine Cinema presented the London premiere of Bouchra Khalili’s The Tempest Society (2017).
The Tempest Society is not a documentary or a fiction, but a hypothesis: Nowadays in Athens, three Athenians from different backgrounds form a group to examine the current state of Greece, Europe and the Mediterranean. To do so, they gather together on a theatre stage, defined as a civic space. They name themselves The Tempest Society to pay homage to Al Assifa (‘The Tempest’ in Arabic), a theatre group active in Paris in the 70s composed of North African immigrant workers and French students. Through the format of the “theatrical newspaper”, Al Assifa addressed the daily struggle against inequality and racism in France.
Forty years later, the forgotten legacy of Al Assifa and its “theatrical newspapers” find a site for reactivation in Greece. On a theatre stage, members of The Tempest Society and their guests – Ghani, a spokesperson for immigrants’ rights, Katerina, born in Greece but undocumented, and Malek a young Syrian refugee – call together for equality, civic belonging, and solidarity. The Tempest Society premiered at documenta 14, Athens, Greece, in 2017.
Bouchra Khalili is a Moroccan-French visual artist. Born and raised in Casablanca, she later studied film and visual arts in Paris, graduating from Sorbonne Nouvelle and Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Working with film, video, installation, photography and prints, Khalili’s practice articulates language, subjectivity, orality and geographical explorations, focusing on the representation of subjects rendered invisible by the nation-state. Among her recent solo exhibitions are Living Labour, Wexner Center for the Arts (2017); The Mapping Journey Project, MoMa (2016); Foreign Office, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2015) and Garden Conversation, MACBA, Barcelona (2015). Her work was also included in many collective exhibitions and biennials, such as documenta 14; the 55th Venice Biennale; the 18th Sydney Biennale; the 8th Göteborg Biennale; the 6th Marrakech Biennale and the 10th Sharjah Biennale, among others. Group exhibitions include New Museum, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Kunsthaus Zurich; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Taipei National Museum; Reina Sofia, Madrid, and London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts. She is a professor of Contemporary Art at Oslo National Art Academy and a founder member of La Cinémathèque de Tanger, an artists-run non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting and developing film culture in North Africa. This year she is a recipient of Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute Fellowship. Khalili has received several awards and grants, such as The Louis Lumière Prize, DAAD-Artist in Berlin Award, The Abraaj Art Prize and a Vera List Center for Art & Politics Fellowship. This year, she received an Ibsen Award (Ibsen National Theatre, Norway) and is among the nominees of the Artes Mundi Prize.