Two motion picture pieces by Meriem Bennani, a Moroccan-born New Yorker, are on display at the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery as part of the Wavelengths section of the Toronto International Film Festival. The exhibit will be on display daily from September 9 through September 18.
Originating from Rabat, Morocco Bennani has exhibited across the world at high profile institutions such as the Whitney Biennial in New York, MoMA PS1 in New York, and the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.
A collaboration with Brian Barki, “Bennani’s Life on the CAPS” (2018–22) and “2 Lizards” (2020), explores a contemporary society’s fractious institutions, individuality, and the pervasive influence of digitalization. Her video pieces combine direct cues from reality tv shows, advertisements, music videos, phone recordings, documentaries, and science fiction utilizing live footage, computer-generated animation, and special effects.
The imaginary island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean is the centerpiece of the trilogy Life on the CAPS (short for “capsule”), which is set in a mystical, futuristic world. In the CAPS universe, teleportation has taken the place of flying, and displaced individuals use it to travel great distances across oceans and national boundaries. Encapsulated by a magnetosphere, the CAPS is inhabited by immigrants who have been caught teleporting illegally. The inhabitants of the CAPS, who have colonized vibrant areas, have created their unique hybrid culture and means of disobedience against the US soldiers who guard the island.
The COVD-19 pandemic’s genuine realities are reflected in 2 Lizards. The mundane aspects of confinement life are depicted in each nearly three-minute episode: rooftop hangouts, Zoom birthdays, the 7 PM clap for critical laborers, and the exhilaration of defying social conventions with a new lover. The daily occurrences and discussions with friends, whose perspectives are represented in a series through a cast of cartoon characters, served as the main sources of inspiration for Bennani and her collaborator Orian Barki’s creative process.
Orian Barki was born in “Tel Aviv, Israel”, an Israeli-occupied Palestinian city. In New York, he resides and works. In addition to directing short documentaries for The Fader, Vogue, Nike, and Art21, Barki films and produces the majority of her unpolished and character-driven documentaries herself. Her art has appeared in publications including Dazed and Le Cinéma Club.
Vega Foundation is named after one of the brightest stars in the Northern Hemisphere. Established by Elisa Nuyten, Vega is dedicated to supporting and promoting artists through the production and acquisition of new moving-image works and to facilitating their presentation through institutional collaborations.
Life in the Caps runs from Sept 9th to Sept 18th, 2022 at the Power Plant Gallery
Tala is an Editorial Intern at Liminul. She’s a creative writer/director, graphic designer, and event coordinated based in Toronto. Tala is a third year student majoring in Fashion Communications at X University.