Safe harbour
as part of In Light Of 25 Years - Witte de With
curators Defne Ayas, Samuel Saelemakers
January 27 – March 1 2015

The first iteration of In Light Of 25 Years is presented by artist collective Mahony.Their work Safe Harbour was prompted by the interview published in A Life Full Of Holes.The Strait Project, the publication accompanying French-Moroccan artist Yto Barrada’s eponymous solo exhibition at Witte de With in 2004. In this interview, Barrada discussed her work in photographing the Strait of Gibraltar and the impact it has on the lives of young people in Morocco as a geopolitical site of frustrated proximity, as she calls it.
As a response, Mahony uses the light box as both an image case and a sculptural element, and addresses relat- ed contemporary issues and historical events, such as the harrowing circumstances of refugees caught during European border controls in the Mediterranean, or The Truth about the Colonies, an exhibition organized by the French Communist Party and a group of surrealist artists in response to the controversial Colonial Exhibition (1931, Paris), where both objects and people from French held territories were exhibited.
The light box is partly covered with rescue blankets often seen in press photography of humanitarian or military operations. Some of these blankets carry embroidered attributes or emblems one would find on towels of private clubs or beach resorts.The embroideries depict ancient Greek gods, whose names have been used for various military missions to secure the European sea borders. One blanket carries the words there is no need to be modern questioning the dominant position of Western modernism worldwide.The street-side of the light box carries a yellow pattern that could be associated with nets, grids, fabrics, and maps. Embedded in the grid are outlines of the fictitious modern bridge similar to the one shown on the € 500 note.The combination of the grid and the bridge evoke a tension between confinement and movement, between entanglement and progress.

text by Samuel Saelemakers

All photos © Cassander Eeftinck-Schattenkerk

INTERVIEW with associate curator Samuel Saelemakers