mounir fatmi was born in Tangiers, Morocco, in 1970. When he was four, his family moved to Casablanca. At the age of 17, he traveled to Rome where he studied at the free school of nude drawing and engraving at the Academy of Arts, and then at the Casablanca art school, and finally at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam.
He spent most of his childhood at the flea market of Casabarata, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Tangiers, where his mother sold children’s clothes. Such an environment produces vast amounts of waste and worn-out common use objects. The artist now considers this childhood to have been his first form of artistic education, and compares the flea market to a museum in ruin. This vision also serves as a metaphor and expresses the essential aspects of his work. Influenced by the idea of defunct media and the collapse of the industrial and consumerist society, he develops a conception of the status of the work of art located somewhere between Archive and Archeology.
By using materials such as antenna cable, typewriters and VHS tapes, mounir fatmi elaborates an experimental archeology that questions the world and the role of the artist in a society in crisis. He twists its codes and precepts through the prism of a trinity comprising Architecture, Language and Machine. Thus, he questions the limits of memory, language and communication while reflecting upon these obsolescent materials and their uncertain future. mounir fatmi’s artistic research consists in a reflection upon the history of technology and its influence on popular culture. Consequently, one can also view mounir fatmi’s current works as future archives in the making. Though they represent key moments in our contemporary history, these technical materials also call into question the transmission of knowledge and the suggestive power of images and criticize the illusory mechanisms that bind us to technology and ideologies.
Since 2000, Mounir fatmi’s installations were selected in several biennials, the 52nd and 57th Venice Biennales, the 8th Sharjah Biennale, the 5th and 7th Dakar Biennales, the 2nd Seville Biennale, the 5th Gwangju Biennale, the 10th Lyon Biennale, the 5th Auckland Triennial, the 10th and 11th Bamako Biennales, the 7th Shenzhen Architecture Biennale, the Setouchi Triennial and the Echigo-Tsumari Triennial in Japan.
Fatmi’s select institutional exhibitions include Mamco, Geneva, Migros Museum für Gegenwarskunst, Zürich, Switzerland; Picasso Museum, war and peace, Vallauris; FRAC Alsace, Sélestat; Contemporary Art Center Le Parvis; Fondazione Collegio San Caro, Modena; AK Bank Foundation, Istanbul; Museum Kunst Palast, Duesseldorf and MMP+,Marrakesh.
Fatmi's solo exhibitions include ones at the Migros Museum, Zurich; MAMCO, Geneva; Picasso Museum La Guerre et la Paix, Vallauris; AK Bank Foundation, Istanbul; Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf and at the Gothenburg Konsthall.
He also participated in several group exhibitions including ones at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Brooklyn Museum, New York. Palais de Tokyo, Paris. MAXXI, Rome. Mori Art Museum, Tokyo. MMOMA, Moscow. Mathaf, Doha, Hayward Gallery and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven and at Nasher Museum of Art, Durham.
He has participated in several group shows including Traditional Interrupted, Bedford Gallery, Walnut Creek, USA, 2019; Wasl-Beyond the Pen, King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, 2019; Revolution Generations, Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art, Dohs, Qatar, 2019; EXOTIC x MODERN: French Art Deco and Inspiration afar, Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan, 2018; Second Life Second Breath, Musee d' Art Contemporain Africain Al Maaden (MACAAL), Marrakech, Morocco, 2018; Beyond Borders, Foundation Boghossian - Villa Empain, Brussels, Belggium, 2018; Somewhere Behind the Eyes, Sammlung Philara, Dusseldorf, Germany, 2018; People Ger Ready, Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, USA, 2018; Cut Up/Cut Out, Ellen Noel Art Museum, Odessa, USA, 2018; BRIC-a-Brac | The Jumble of Growth, Galleria Nazionale d' Arte Moderna e Contemoranea, Rome, Italia, 2018; 40 ans de collection et un film documentaire de 60 min, Fondation Fernet-Branca, Saint-Louis, France, 2018; Un œil ouvert sur le monde arabe, Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, France, 2018; Motherland in Art,Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow, Krakow, Poland, 2018; RESIST! The 1960s Protests, Photography and Visual Legacy, BOZAR, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussles, 2018; A Journey to Freedom, Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallary, 2018; Cut up/Cut out, Pensacola Museum of Art, University of West Florida, 2018. He has also participated in group shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Karakow; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; The Brooklyn Museum, New York; N.B.K., Berlin; MAXXI, Rome; Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; Museum on the Seam, Jerusalem; Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Moscow; Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha; the Hayward Gallery, London; the Art Gallery of Western Australia; the Victoria & Albert Museum, London and the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven. He has participated in biennials such as the 52nd and 54th Venice Biennial, the 8th biennial of Sharjah, the 5th and 7th Dakar Biennial, the 2nd Seville Biennial, the 5th Gwangju Biennial, the 10th Lyon Biennial, the 5th Auckland Triennial, Fotofest 2014, Houston and the 10th Bamako Encounters.
He has received several prizes, including the Uriöt prize, Amsterdam, the Grand Prix Léopold Sédar Senghor at the 7th Dakar Biennale in 2006, as well as the Cairo Biennale Prize in 2010.He was shortlisted for the Jameel Prize of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London in 2013.
His work is in several notable collections including: Sindika Dokolo Foundation, Luanda; Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth; Queensland Art Gallery of Australia, Brisbane; AGO, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Fondation Louis Vuitton pour la création, Paris; Fonds National d'Art Contemporain, Paris; Fonds Régional d'Art Contemporain d'Alsace, Sélestat; Fonds Municipal d'Art Contemporain, Paris; MAMC Les Abattoirs, Toulouse; Cité nationale de l'histoire de l'immigration, Paris; Rosenblum & Friends, Paris; Foundation Frances, Senlis; FDAC L'Essonne & Château de Chamarande; Bibliothèque Municipale de Lyon; Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf; Nadour, Krefeld; Written Art Foundation, Frankfurt; The Tiroche DeLeon Collection; Fondazione Cassa di risparmio di Modena, Modena; Darat al Funun, The Khalid Shoman Foundation, Amman; National Museum of Mali, Bamako; MMP+, The Marrakech Museum for Photography and Visual Arts, Marrakech; Bank Al-Maghrib, Casablanca; Wafabank Foundation, Casablanca; Museum of the ONA Foundation, Casablanca; MOCAK, Museum of Contemporary Art, Krakow; Qatar Foundation, Doha; Mathaf, Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha; Jameel Foundation; King Abdulaziz Centre, Dhahran; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Rijksakademie Collection, Amsterdam; De Nederlandsche Bank N.V., Amsterdam; Miniature Museum Ria and Lex Daniels, The Hague; Kamel Lazaar Foundation, Tunis; Koč Foundation, Istanbul; The Farjam Collection, Dubai; Articulate Contemporary Art Fund, London; The Brooklyn Museum, New York and the Hessel Foundation for the Bard Museum, New York.
He lives and works between Paris and Tangier.