Mounir Fatmi's work is in the Permanent Collection of the Louvre, Abu Dhabi

Mounir Fatmi's work Roots 02 (2015-16) is in the permanent collection of the Louvre, Abu Dhabi. 


Roots 02 is a complex sculptural work; complex in its production, a meticulous process developed by the artist in 1998, of manipulating white antenna cable to create detailed wall-reliefs, this material, which has been used since the invention of the television to connect a TV to the antenna to transmit images, is one that has long interested the artist.

The antenna cable serves as both core material and valuable archive in the sense that it is quickly becoming an obsolete material. As such, the work itself and this archive find themselves in a similar position and create a sort of dialogue. The archive creates the work and the work stores the archive. 

The complexity of the work is further developed through the connections that are woven between several sources of inspiration.

References to the ornamentation found in ancient Islamic work, such as the all over patterning and decoration, and references to certain drip paintings by Jackson Pollock, an artist whom the artist previously paid homage to in earlier works including “Encounters” 2010, and “Connection,” a large sculpture made out of white antenna cable, which was presented in an exhibition at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris in 1999. 

At first glance, “Roots” seems to be simply an aesthetically pleasing work, but in fact the artist seeks to to confront a more philosophical question: How deep can roots go? 

Like several other works by Fatmi, “Roots” is an aesthetic trap. The eye gets lost in the maze of cables, desperately seeking to find a beginning, middle, or end, and finally an exit. The viewer becomes destabilized, unbalanced, and the work challenges the viewer to look at their own history. The white on white wall relief also suggests an erasure, a “white canvas”, or screen onto which the viewer can project their own desires, fantasies, fears and hopes into the limitless and infinite spread of roots. 

At a time when issues of identity and borders are increasingly in the news and being taken up by the extremes, the sculpture “Roots,” defends the idea of harmony and stability through its interlacing composition, a metaphor for the possibility of eventual union.

December 3, 2017