Saâdane Afif “In Search of the Heptahedron” at Mehdi Chouakri, Berlin

The exhibition “In Search of the Heptahedron” (with the coexisting show “The Coalman”at Wilhelm Hallen) is continuations of a cycle of exhibitions and events based on the play The Heptahedron (2017), written by the French author Thomas Clerc after a performance by Afif that took place during the “Marrakesh Biennale” (2014). In the script, the heroine Yasmine is looking for a seven-sided polyhedron—a heptahedron. On her quest, she encounters seven enigmatic characters: the Professor, the Bonimenteur, the Moped Rider, the Fortune Teller, the Coalman, an Acrobats, and the Tourist. They each reveal a part of the secret of the object of her desire. This classical and simple storyline feeds many of Afif’s recent works, which become an allegory of the artist’s place in the society.
With the show “In Search of the Heptahedron” at the gallery space at Fasanenplatz, Afif takes up precisely this ensemble of characters. Inspired by Abi Warburg’s method of pictorial associations, seven Curator’s Boards (2023) covered with images reveal the depth and potential contradictions that each of the figures holds. The magnetic panels were initially used by Afif to shape the seven figures when he was appointed artistic director of the “Bergen Assembly” (2022). With the chairs from the series Interface: The Heptahedron Seats (2020), which break up Donald Judd’s minimal furniture designs, Afif remains his very first research to give a form to the heptahedron. A new light sculpture hanging in the center of the room continues to spin the narrative. The eight light bulbs supported by the chandelier are animated by an invisible prompter that unfolds the entire scenario of the play, translating the exchange of words between the seven characters and the heroin into syncopated ornamental lighting. The work titled This is Ornamental (2023) not only references Afif’s titular exhibition at Kunsthalle Wien (2018), where the text of the play was presented for the first time as a work, but also reinterprets a chandelier design by architect Adolf Loos from 1911; the author of Ornament and Crime (1910).

at Mehdi Chouakri, Berlin
until June 17, 2023

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