Before Our Eyes

MACBA, Barcelona

The exhibition Before Our Eyes. Other Cartographies of the Rif is part of Sous Nos Yeux, a curatorial project formed by exhibitions, artist residencies, encounters and productions. 

Sous Nos Yeux originated in the artistic expeditions that, under the title Le Bout du monde (The End of the World), have been organised by Abdellah Karroum – director of the independent space L’appartement 22 in Rabat, Morocco, and MATHAF, Arab Museum of Modern Art, in Doha, Qatar – since 2000 in the territory of the Rif region. After the first two parts were exhibited at La Kunsthalle (Mulhouse, France), the third part, is presented here at the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) as Before Our Eyes.

Before Our Eyes eventually explores the exhibition format, developed here in a non-linear manner, while inviting the viewer to find other possible ways of approaching the works and the histories they hide – histories that were always before our eyes but only now have become visible.

Taking the geography of the Rif Mountains as a springboard, the exhibition questions the idea of the artistic object and the processes of museum institutions.
The exhibition, which is in line with the Museum’s ongoing interest in contemporary art from the southern Mediterranean area, will include works by individual artists as well as pieces that have been anonymously or collectively produced. Through a selection of recent and specifically commissioned works arising from expeditions and artist residencies in the Rif region,each participating artist was invited to produce works that aim to challenge viewers’ perceptions of their relationship to history, its meanings and the narratives that construct it in relation to a very specific context. At stake is not only the meaning of the artistic object, but also its relationship to archival practices and its integration within the museum institution.

Throughout the evolution of Sous nos yeux, artists from different parts of the world have joined and established a dialogue where the very specific context of the Rif Mountains has become their work’s point of departure. Besides works created by this group of artists, the exhibition also includes anonymous objects used in the geographical and cultural context of the Rif throughout the twentieth century and at present. Installed in the Museum galleries, these pieces question the definition of artistic objects and the mechanisms and methodologies that give them cultural visibility and for whom.

Before Our Eyes. Other Cartographies of the Rif is also an exploration of the exhibition’s form, one that aims to link the production of each artwork to a broader artistic project that responds to how the artist is positioned in the world today.

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