Mohamed Bourouissa ”Urban Riders” Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris

First things first, though: realism, I was saying. Bourouissa and Courbet share the same principle in which every portrait or representation is, per se, a political act of social inclusion. One can see it from the very beginning of the show, where I’m welcomed by a large-format picture that recalls Diego Velázquez’s ”Equestrian Portrait of the Count-Duke of Olivares.”

Courtesy the artist and kamel mennour Paris/London. Photo: archives kamel mennour © ADAGP Mohamed Bourouissa
“Mechanisms” at CCA Wattis, San Francisco

Mechanisms brings together twenty artists who critically explore and reimagine the pervasive role of technology in contemporary life. Against the drives toward efficiency and productivity mandated by profit-driven enterprises, the artists in this exhibition throw wrenches into the smooth, organized workings of machines. By misusing tools, sabotaging systems, and thwarting outcomes they question our relationship with the machines that control our bodies and lives, and envision alternative scenarios in which failure, futility, idleness, and breakdown might be reclaimed as opportunities for human agency and creativity. Mechanisms is on view at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, from October 12, 2017 to February 24, 2018. A second and expanded version will open at the Vienna Secession in summer of 2018. Here, Gwen L. Allen interviews Wattis Institute director Anthony Huberman about the ideas behind, and planning for, the exhibition.

Photo: Johnna Arnold