30 March 2020
YES, I AM.
- Artist — Soufiane Ababri
- Interview by — Violeta Dai
1.What does "pressure" mean for you?
This is the base of human reactions, proposals and answers to the complex questions of our world.
It’s also what brought me to art. This pressure on sexual and ethnic minorities of which I am part of. Resisting pressure allows you to be beautiful and strong.
2.Who are you? And, how are you?« I'm still the same one as the child I was and I always will be. »
I am Soufiane Ababri, I am a visual artist. I mainly draw in my domestic space, in my bed. These are my "Bedworks" that I then show in galleries and museums with immersive scenographies accompanied by performances and objects.
I still feel pretty good.
3.What would you like to talk in this interview?
I would like to talk to you about all that is implied by this confinement and this compulsory distance from our loved ones, that we are currently experiencing.
To tell you about this new experience of living 24/7 with my boyfriend between 4 walls to share everything and discuss like never before.
I would like to talk about “bulimia” reading as if it would be the end of the world and what all of this is going to change in us.
But I cannot because it is too early and it is certainly only the beginning. But my drawings are already experiencing the change.
4.Who are you when you are creating?
I'm still the same one as the child I was and I always will be. I have a very sociological point of view about this issue. This idea of determinism which implies that the habits of childhood will always guide our tastes and our reactions. It’s something related with social class and traditions, religious or not.
But I am also the one who recreates himself and who assumes completely a new identity built out of necessity and for survival because of the marginalization and the violence suffered by gays, Arabs and different people in general.
5.What’s the meaning of “fagot” for you?
It’s, of course, an insult to homosexuals with the intention of hurting them. For me it is a question of turning this insult: to transform it into a force.
The insult is what creates a concrete identity. Nobody knows that someone is doing something repressed and considered bad by society before hearing words like faggot, negro, whore, raghead, fat ...
With these drawings "I am not just a faggot" I make a kind of world encyclopedia of faggots that changed the world.
This is to say that without our world, heterosexual world would be in abject poverty. Think of fashion, literature, dance, visual art, music, poetry, art-critic...
6.What’s the good part of being under pressure?
To create things what are necessary and that go from one heart to another heart. I think it often allows something quite close to a telepathic form... I experience it every day with people in my community.
7.What does color mean for you? And black and white?
Red, white, yellow, black, brown, pink, blue, gray…
I am currently reading "Chroma", a sublime book about colors by Derek Jarman and he says:
“Apropos of that green carnation, Havelock Ellis was certain that queers preferred green to any other colour. Did they secretly drag up in all those emerald dresses that the girls had cast off? Hand a colour swatch to a lad with cock on his mind and see which colour he chooses… Priapus had a green one. Why were all those thespian rest rooms green rooms? And did you know Jesus was crazy about John, and John was green evangelist? Perhaps there is a simple answer, too many young men stared for too long at those naked verdigris bronzes that obsessed the Greeks” ("Chroma", Derek Jarman, p.70).
8.How has the meaning of “sex” developed during your life?
Sex is what allowed me to understand the world. To problematize the violence of the world. I think that’s the nerve center of all the violence in the world. The idea of manhood has divided and creates the worst instincts in humans.
9.How do you perceive women?
Women are an integral part of my life. The family of the oppressed. I find an enormous response in the writings of radical interracial feminists.
Women accompany me every day, my mother and my three sisters, Billie Holiday, Cheikha Rimiti, Warda, Toni Morrisson, Marguerite Duras, Laurie Anderson ...
But I also like places for gay men only. This eroticism is very important to me. I have a lot of contradictions.
10.How do you perceive LGBTIQ+?
It's my family and the mirror of the world.
11.What is your mission?
I don’t have a mission. I participate in visibility. If I had a mission it would be to continue what other LGBTIQ + artists started before me and to show that in the Arab world and in Africa there are people who continue to suffer violence because of a love which is perceived as abnormal by a heteronomous majority. That marginalization creates subjectivity and a way of seeing the world which is different and which art needs.« Marginalization creates subjectivity and a way of seeing the world which is different and which art needs. »
12.What else would you like to say?
I hope we can see and touch each other as soon as possible. In the meantime, take care of others.
Thank you, Soufiane.
Current Solo Show:
"Something new under the little princess body"
"A circus act behind bars of lilac and blood"
Performance teaser video of "Something new under the little princess body"
Soufiane Ababri / Praz Delavallade Gallery Paris-Los Angeles
Soufiane Ababri / The Pill Gallery Istanbul
Soufiane Ababri / Dittrich & Schlechtriem gallery Berlin