Artistic Insight: Joshua Tabti

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Joshua Tabti’s Quiberville dominates our reception area; the stark seascape background depicted contrasting with the continually changing vista of the city skyline behind it. The work’s mobility, the photographic print mounted on a clothing rail on wheels, intricately relates to the works context whilst transforming its potential for display. The work is not constrained to a wall, but free to move around the reception through a multitude of positions. Joshua Tabti explores his work in our Artistic Insight.

“Researching writer Paul Virilio and artists Jane and Louise Wilson for my dissertation prompted me to visit the WWII concrete German Bunkers along the French coast, known as the Atlantic Wall. In his book Bunker Archaeologie (1975), Virilio describes how the bunkers are homogenous forms as they have no foundations and were poured into huge moulds. Over the 70 years since the end of World War Two, the Atlantic has eroded the coasts, while the bunkers have resisted this weathering. This resulted in bunkers that had fallen off of cliffs, sank into the sand and tumbled into the sea.

I began questioning what are the effects on memory, knowledge and ultimately history, if a monument, memorial or ruin can move.

I visited these bunkers in December 2015, which pepper the Atlantic coast from southern France to Norway, visiting as many examples of mobility as I could with my father driving to battle the short winter light. I borrowed a Bronica medium format camera from my university to shoot with.

To present these photographs, I hosted a series of experimental lectures and performances throughout the degree show. Processes like these rely on information and memory to be translated between mediums and myself acting as a pseudo-academic mediator, therefore gaining and losing details, inventing while questioning new knowledges. Meanwhile, an audience is encouraged to solve these fragmented puzzles, whilst realising their own position within the work.

During the Degree Show at Central Saint Martins, I displayed three structures of these bunker photographs, spaced out to mimic their geographical positions with co-ordinates on the floor to subtly inform visitors. On the back of these prints, I overhead-projected a lecture on ‘the mobility of ruins’ aiming to educated the audience on the history of moving memorials and monuments. Meanwhile, the lesson’s objective was to overwhelm and confuse the audience to question the veracity of history and translated knowledge. This was achieved through the real time translation of lecturers from German to French to English, other times a piano prepared for percussion was played to censor and interfere with my lecture.”

Explore his project further here.

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