Meriem Bennani's Internet-age Playground
If you only have time to see one show this weekend, let it be Meriem Bennani's Siham & Hafida, her new multi-channel video installation at The Kitchen. Coming off her well-received debut institutional solo show at MoMA PS1 in 2016, the Moroccan-born artist continues her explorations of immersive, multi-screen video installations.
This time Bennani's video tells the story of two competing chickha performers from a provincial town in Morocco. Born in different generations, the two women perform vastly disparate femininities as they sing, dance and go about their everyday lives. One singer's identity is prescribed by ancient tradition, the other molded on a fascinating hybrid of Moroccan culture, social media, and globalized consumerism.
Using a hilarious range of effects, Bennani transform the women's crumbling Moroccan town into an internet-age wonderland surrounded by scuttling emoji-crabs, fluttering pixelated butterflies, and cartoonish sound effects.
The artist's imaginative use of media (Bennani's Instagram account could be the funniest in the art world) and her brazen, playful imagery allows Bennani to create environments that feel like physical manifestations of online worlds. Reflecting the confusing, visually stunning, and attention-distorting age of the smart phone, Bennani's environments evoke a feeling of being inside the internet itself: often hilarious, sometimes stupefying, and always deeply enjoyable.