We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.

🛈 In line with NSW Health advice, the Art Gallery is temporarily closed to the public. Stay updated on our social media.

Title

Guided Tour of a Spill (CAPS Interlude)

2021

Artist

Meriem Bennani

Morocco, United States of America

No image
  • Details

    Date
    2021
    Media category
    Time-based art
    Materials used
    single channel digital video, colour, sound
    Edition
    2/5 + 2AP
    Dimensions
    duration: 00:15:49 min, aspect ratio: 4:3
    Credit
    Purchased with funds provided by Danny Yap, Emily Fan and Harvey Yap 2021
    Location
    Not on display
    Accession number
    90.2021
    Copyright
    © Meriem Bennani
    Artist information
    Meriem Bennani

    Works in the collection

    1

    Share
  • About

    When we think of teleportation, we tend to indulge in sci-fi fantasies of absolute freedom of movement. Matter or energy decomposes at one point and ressembles at another. Beam me up! Bodies flit across the planet in a zap, overcoming all of the quotidian hassles of travel: boredom, discomfort, jetlag. But what if the political obstacles to border crossings remained?

    Meriam Bennani’s ‘CAPS’ video series conjures a techno-futurist world where teleportation meets the ongoing realities of mass statelessness and militarised border regimes. Responding to Donald Trump’s 2017 travel ban and her own experiences of visa precarity living as a Morrocan-born artist in New York, Bennani invents an offshore prison called CAPS (short for capsule). First introduced in ‘Party on the CAPS’ (2018), this is a fictional island where American troopers detain illegal teleporters trying to reach their shores. The CAPS is no ordinary detention centre: on this mid-Atlantic metropolis, Arabic techno throbs and the security cameras sing along to Alicia Keys. Refugees have been stuck for so long in this limbo that they’ve developed their own hybrid cultures, makeshift infrastructure and fugitive identities.

    In ‘Guided tour of a spill (CAPS interlude)’, our narrator is Fiona, a slime-green talking crocodile reminiscent of the Lacoste logo. Fiona takes us to a Moroccan neighbourhood on CAPS where a group of freedom fighters train to resist the border police. In one scene, live-action footage shows the men preparing for battle. In the next shot, an animated stethoscope crawls out of the frame and takes the heartbeat of a young rebel. Bennani delights in merging documentary aesthetics with the hyperlinked weirdness of the internet.

    Humorous, inventive and madcap, Bennani’s work celebrates the ungovernable: data leaks and viral videos; the circulation of bootlegged media amongst diasporic communities; the urge to party in even the most oppressive environments. ‘Guided tour of a spill (CAPS interlude)’ is a new kind of teleportation fantasy – not a dream of easy travel – but a pop tribute to outlaw practices which transcend even the most hostile spaces of confinement.

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 2 publications

    • Travis Diehl, Art in America, ‘The robotic heart of freedom,’, United States of America, 14 Apr 2021.

    • Cat Kron, ArtReview, ‘Artist Meriem Bennani’s year of cultural vertigo,’, 07 May 2021.