Now more than ever, conversations on immigration and border security have become quite contentious. Curated by Sumesh Sharma and Joud Halawani Al Tamimi, Algerian artist, Nasr-eddine Bennacer’s exhibition, Journeys into the Future through the Sea of the Past, at Beirut’s Mark Hachem Gallery, imaginatively responds to this current global situation.

Bringing together installations, paintings, videos and photography, Nasr-eddine Banncer explores notions of identity and borders in relation to geopolitics and violence while also tackling profound questions on the links between civilizations and cultures and the ambiguity that exists in human relationships and interaction. Diving deeper into the world of Nasr-eddine Bennacer, Selections decided to take a guided tour with the artist. We’ve compiled a few of his comments from the tour below.

Nasr-eddine Bennacer:

So this exhibition marks the first time in my life where I am entirely the subject of the show. The exhibition was modified, because we could not hang everything, we tried to do it in a way so that would be coherent.

This suitcase is the introduction for this exhibition, It is a metaphor which is full of souvenirs from my father and family. There was no communication between my father and I, if we add up all of our discussions that we’ve had throughout our lives, it wouldn’t add up to a whole day. So I put on my father’s shirt I tell myself, if I put it on, it has to be magic! If I start turning like a whirling dervish something magical might happen. I might see what my father has seen or maybe even communicate with him.

COFFRE A SOUVENIRS, Installation vidéo, photo, cuir et bois, 2017, courtesy of Mark Hachem Gallery

This is the tower of Babel. You know the biblical story of the Tower of Babel?  So God gives everyone a different language- he creates a cacophony so the city collapses because of the confused communication. Anyway, I built this tower of Babel from a photo.

Autodafé, technique mixte sur papier Japon, 2017, 237 x 160 cm, Courtesy of Mark Hachem Gallery

I went on a trip to Abu Dhabi, and saw a channel that broadcasts from Mecca 24/7. I was inspired by the collective and continuous movement of the crowds. Everything seems so minuscule. Seen from above, the human being, becomes like a pixel – we go from figuration to something extremely abstracted. That interested me.

HASHD 1, 2017, Pastel sur papier Arches, 118 x 157,5 cm, courtesy of Mark Hachem Gallery

HASHD 2, 2017, Pastel sur papier Arches, 118 x 157,5 cm, courtesy of Mark Hachem Gallery

This series is the “Cracheur de Voiles”. In Paris, I have a lot of friends who do not want to see the reality of things, they live in a particular bubble, in their comfort zone. They do not watch the news, they do not know what’s going on. It does not interest them, like children watching horror movies. I think we must do our best to go and see things. We should not expect things to come to us.


The centre piece is called Ouroboros, it’s the snake that bites its own tail. It’s the symbol of the cycle of life – eternal destruction and renewal. I chose to conceptually position this work in the context of the history of emigration, which has been going on since the beginning of time. The grass is always greener on the other side. It has been like this for the longest time, but recently the world has been reacting to this situation as if it were happening for the first time.

installation view, courtesy of Mark Hachem Gallery

Ouroboros, 2016, Installation et néon, 287 x 72 x 46 cm, courtesy of Mark Hachem Gallery

Journeys into the Future Through the Sea of the Past, is on view at Mark Hachem Gallery through July 10, 2018.