06. August 2018

The army, fitness and the body cult as well as the staging of power are central themes in Neïl Beloufa’s new work, presented at the SCHIRN exhibition “Global Agree­ment” from August 23 to October 22, 2018.

By SCHIRN Magazine

The social conflict between majority and minority, between dominance and oppression, runs like a golden thread through the work of award-winning video and installation artist Neïl Beloufa. From August 23 to October 28, 2018 his walkable sculptural installations are presented in the Schirn Rotunda, which is freely accessible to the public, as well as in an adjoining exhibition space. An interview collage on film will be visible on various monitors in parts of the sculptures.

The video is based on interviews that the artist conducted with male and female soldiers from different countries. Beloufa established a variety of profiles in different social networks in order to establish contact with the community and to learn about it through the various exchanges. The soldiers mostly use a specific form of self-representation in their profiles on Facebook and Instagram — often in poses adopted from the fashion and lifestyle industries. In their personal video interviews with the artist, they talk about their everyday working routine, their hopes and fears during their possible and actual assignments, and their lasting experiences while serving their country. In “Global Agreement” the artist raises questions concerning physical presentation as well as the reception and involvement and/or positioning of the viewer. 

In video interviews the soldiers talk about their hopes, fears and experiences

The film as an artistic medium constitutes the focus and point of departure in Beloufa’s oeuvre. He uses its production parameters, such as set, lighting, perspective, and editing, for the development of his videos, sculptures, and installations. These installations and spaces are forms of expression of the film narrative; the narrative is portrayed in and on them in each case. Fiction and reality fuse in Beloufa’s videos. Viewers become irritated by their own perception and eventually can no longer distinguish between truth and falsehood.

Neïl Beloufa, Sustainable Development, Ausstellungsansicht MRAC Sérignan, 2017, © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018, Photo: Aurélien Mole
Neïl Beloufa, Global Agreement, Filmstill, 2018 © Neïl Beloufa

In his works Beloufa also frequently examines art and his own activities as an artist. His works are produced collaboratively with the aim of eliminating the singular position and the subjective perspective of the actual author. The artist’s interview collage shown in “Global Agreement” is dedicated to the human body and its discursive and political importance. It foregrounds his latest interest in the army, weapons, fitness, beauty, and the body cult as well as in the staging of power.

The human body and the staging of power

Beloufa works with strategies that defy clear representation: the superordinate military context is not made visible, the protagonists’ capacity is not recognizable in their clothing, nor is the conversation repeated in dialogue form. The artist, as interviewer, is completely absent. Like the film narrative in “Global Agreement,” ultimately the video is not completed yet.

Neïl Beloufa, Global Agreement, Filmstill, 2018 © Neïl Beloufa