The Circle & The Public Storyteller

Bouchra Khalili
Fri 31.05.2024 and Sat 01.06.2024

In 1974, admist a hunger strike by undocumented workers in Paris, the Movement of Arab Workers created a singular political action: presenting a candidate for the imminent presidential elections. They chose a member of their Al Assifa theatre group, an 18-year-old Tunisian hunger striker using the pseudonym Djellali Kamal. The campaign was conceived as a public performance highlighting the denial of civil rights to migrants and projecting self-agency. Artist Bouchra Khalili now creates a video installation, consisting of two video works that form a unique dialogue reconnecting distant geographies and times. 

With The Circle, she reconstructed the incredible adventure of this powerful action from fifty years ago. With The Public Storyteller, a new commission by the festival, she films a halqa, a centuries-old practice of public storytelling in Morocco, to people arranged in a circle. In this halqa, Djellali’s campaign is narrated by a storyteller in Marrakesh, implicitly forming a new circle linking the diaspora and North Africa. What does this gap between 1974 and 2024 tell us, a few days before a new election? How can invisibilised identities become visible? Khalili emphasises the importance of remembering past political strategies as a practice of intergenerational transmission for the present and future.


presentatie / presentation Kunstenfestivaldesarts & KVS concept / conception Bouchra Khalili