4 - 27 April 2014
Sleeper(s) Awake // الناّس نيامْ...
Nabil Saouabi paints stark images of wounded, dead or almost dead bodies. Some we recognise as famous world leaders. Others are harder to name and yet we have a sense of already knowing them. Somehow they are connected through political struggle and violence and have been seen by us before - as news images shared through mass media and the Internet.
There are martyrs of the Arab Spring: Mohamed Bouazizi bandaged from head to foot lying on his hospital bed as a ghostly Ben Ali looks on2. We see the wounded citizens of Siliana3 shot with lead from police air guns in November 2012. Before us lies the freshly slaughtered Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Tunisia’s founding father Habib Bourguiba reclines, half dead. We also see the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and the previous Emir of Qatar who have both played such varied roles in the politics of the region. We see too the distinctive car of the Tunisian unionist and independence fighter, Farhat Hached, assassinated in 1952. From further afield we spot the famous Vietnam War image of a summary execution in action, and a portrait of the Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara who was executed without trial in 1967.
Why is Saouabi compelled to ‘recycle’ these morbid images in such a visually and physically intimate way? How does the viewer - or consumer - experience them differently as a result of their re-depiction by him?