press release

Museum Haus Konstruktiv and Zurich Insurance Group are delighted to honor this year’s winner of the “Zurich Art Prize”, Latifa Echakhch (b. 1974 in El Khnansa, Morocco). In 2015, this award, which was established in close cooperation with the Zurich Insurance Group, is presented for the eighth time. The prize money of CHF 80,000 is put to use in a solo exhibition, specially conceived for Museum Haus Konstruktiv.

Latifa Echakhch, who came to France at the age of three and now lives in Martigny, Switzerland, attracted the attention of the international artworld with, among other things, her work “Fantasia” at the 2011 Venice Biennale.
Her works are characterized by the use of simple, but always impressive, gestures and materials. In a focused, accurate manner, this artist turns her attention to issues regarding individual and cultural identity, to personal and collective histories, and to sociopolitical changes that pose new challenges for our society. This year, affected by the current flood of refugees, she presented two video films at the 14th Istanbul Biennial, thematizing the sea as a bearer of hope. The images of the dramas involving refugees also played a central role in the conception of her exhibition at Museum Haus Konstruktiv: a series of folding screens are draped with clothes that have been immersed in ink. These coverings with nobody inside them are reminiscent of wet clothing that has been lost on the run. They leave behind thin rivulets of dark color on the folding screens. Flowing trails of ink already appeared in Echakhch’s 2007 work “For Each Stencil a Revolution”, the title of which refers back to a Yasser Arafat quote about the revolutionarily eventful late 1960s. Back then, blue carbon paper was often used for disseminating political proclamations; Echakhch had affixed such paper to the wall and treated it with a solution that caused the ink within it to run out, much like many a political idea that trickles away like ink and fades into oblivion.

Such ways of bridging gaps define Echakhch’s works. With the motifs used in another new work for the exhibition at Museum Haus Konstruktiv, the artist addresses the “Géants” and “Gigantes” that appear in Romanic folk traditions. These figures, up to six meters tall, mostly representing king and queen, are carried through the town in processions and festive parades. Echakhch removes them from their original context and positions them in the space. At rest, they become a still life, a “nature morte”, and their super-humanness, symbolized by their enormous size, is reviewed.