“I went back to the Tunisian southwest, its silent poverty, its mineral loneliness, its arid and forgotten soils whose foundations were rich with minerals, which have been confiscated and stripped from these oppressed – but not submissive – souls. I took the road that crosses these dusty lands, an area that is both lifeless and inhabited, where the captive figure moves. This body is moving within this universe as its matrix; it extracts itself with a gesture that breaks its confinement. In its struggle, in its encounters, in its wanderings, this body is a figure of resistance, a figure pushing for freedom and the re-enchantment of a forgotten land.”Mouna Karray, 2015
Taken across various landscapes of the Tunisian south, the works present a figure shrouded in a white sheet photographed against many rural and desolate backdrops. This series - started during an artist residency at Dream City Biennial of Contemporary Art in Public Space (Tunis, 2012) and produced from 2012-2015 - is shown in its entirety for the first time.
Considered one of the most disadvantaged regions in the country, the south of Tunisia has traditionally suffered from a lack of investment and marginalisation. Karray’s works represent a series of loaded narratives exploring the artist’s encounters with both the people and landscape of this region – which provides a home for the country’s neglected, almost forgotten, population.
Restrained by the limitations of their socio-economic status, the isolation and alienation experienced by the people in this region are personified within Karray’s restricted, anonymous subject. This figure exists in stark juxtaposition to the unique beauty and vast character of the surrounding landscape.
Born in 1970 in Sfax, Tunisia, Karray studied art and culture in Tunis before moving to Tokyo to complete an MA specialising in photography at the Tokyo Institute of Polytechnics and Arts in 2002. She currently lives and works between Paris and Sfax.
Her work has been selected for Dak’Art 2016: The 12th Biennale of Contemporary African Art, Dakar, Senegal and also recently featured in The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists, curated by Simon Njami, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC, USA (2015) touring from SCAD Museum of Art, Georgia, USA (2014-15) and MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany (2014).
Other recent group shows include: Broken English, Tyburn Gallery, London, UK, (2015); Visible/Invisible, Urban Africa and Margins, Fondation Blachère, Aix en Provence, France (2015); The Sea is my Land, Triennale di Milano, Milan, Italy (2014) touring from MAXXI, Rome, Italy (2013); Ici, Ailleurs, Friche la Belle de Mai, Tour-Panorama, Marseille-Provence 2013 European Capital of Culture, Marseille, France (2013); Dégagement… La Tunisie un an après, Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, France (2012); Photoquai, Musée du quai Branly, Paris, France (2009). Her work was also featured in the 2007 and 2011 Bamako Biennale, Mali.
Karray’s work is included in private and public collections such as Sindika Dokolo, Ministry of Tunisian Culture and Nadour Private Collection.