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Very few artists succeed in giving shape to chaos, and Sonia Kacem is one of them. Invaded by her artworks, the rooms change from mere architecture into genuine pictorial spaces in which color contrasts and light vibrations come together and seem to take on meaning.
Her installations unravel like a performance, both as a spontaneous and intuitive reaction to a precise, sensual appropriation and layout of their spatial qualities, and to the specific nature of the materials used to create them.
Starting from the materials she finds on the street or disposed of in waste deposits to be recycled, Kacem cleverly presents the leftovers of our industrial and consumer society. The materials she displays have lost their original function, like striped awnings that no longer protect balconies from the sun, or colored foam rubber that once filled sofas on which people spent hours snoozing in front of the TV. Worn and faded by the passage of time these items now have their own special sheen and unexpected texture. But the artist’s interest in them is not dictated by sentimentality or some form of moralizing. In fact, she often exhibits them together with shiny, new industrial products. The result is a dramatic composition based on contrasts, which—thanks to this direct comparison between new and old—further accentuates the materiality and the essential characteristics of the items exhibited.
When viewers circulate in the spaces of Sonia Kacem’s installations, the extremely precise compositions, they seem to find themselves balanced between oxymorons.
So, even if the artist’s works are aesthetically abstract and empty of narrative, their material concrete nature pushes us to consider clearly defined issues, since what we are looking at are the leftovers of our consumerism and industrial production cycles.
These artworks are therefore the result of the interactions between the material, the exhibition space, and the artist. Based on precise sketches, the direct confrontation between these three components when the installation takes shape introduces a degree of uncertainty. This dynamic, which is clearly defined, still leaves space for randomness, and allows for forms to be created in a new way and stimulate their haptic perception. In this sense Kacem’s art seeks to subvert established hierarchies, so her installations, despite their often colossal size and spectacularity, impress the viewer for their anti-monumental poetics. Thanks to the manner in which she appropriates space, using processes that stimulate both density and comparison, Sonia Kacem succeeds in giving concrete shape to the idea of complexity. A quality that should not be underestimated in a world dominated by populism and a desire for uniformity.
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