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