Ultimate Vatos

Sara Sadik

For Westfälischer Kunstverein, Sadik has developed a new video installation in which she delves into her observations on the conditioning of masculinity, which is traditionally closely linked to qualities such as physical and psychological strength. Ultimate Vatos offers a scenario that is set between The Hunger Games (2012, Gary Ross) and a voyeuristic survival training, and follows a single protagonist as he completes this cross-border training program. In the process, Sadik opens up an intimate moment for us to share with the protagonist, revealing him in all his humanity.

The videos, performances, installations and photographs of Sara Sadik take the form of mangas, video games, docu-fictions as well as CGI-animated films. In doing so, the artist with Moroccan-Algerian roots explores manifestations of what she calls „Beurcore“ - the youth culture that emerged among members of the working class from the North African diaspora. Beurcore defines both a hybrid identity and a collective movement constituted through music such as rap and hip-hop, language, fashion, specific symbols and social media. With references to these characteristics of belonging, the artist succeeds in a sharp and at the same time empathetic analysis of the social constraints and expectations on young adults in a post-migrant society. Ultimately, she is concerned with the valorization of a social class, which inspires a white majority society through its codes and music, and yet enjoys very little social prestige overall.

The artist’s own life as well as other true stories from her circle of friends and social media, above all Instagram, form the basis for the scenarios of her works. They are mixed with fictional elements and imbued with a futuristic aesthetic. These docs-fictions allow for a change of perspective, especially since they are told in the first person, which triggers a process of identification in the viewers. Mostly these stories focus on young people from working-class neighborhoods. In Lacrizotiek (2019), for example, children from the Cité de la Busserine in Marseille become actors in a news programme in which they report on the arrival of aliens. For Carnalito Full Option (2020), a television play about being chosen as the ideal man, Sadik worked with five boys out of reformatories. Beyond the clichés and stereotypes the artist plays with, the young men also reveal intimate and personal emotions in their dialogue with the camera, which testify to deeply felt friendships, striving for success, but also sincere doubts and vulnerability.

Sadik is interested in the question of identity through the prism of masculinity. In her most recent video work Khobtogone (2021), this become clear when she lets Zine, the young male protagonist, talk about his life, his los for a young woman and his friends, as we’ll as his worries and fears. Characteristics read as masculine, such as success, toughness and strength, are balanced in an almost painful contrast by vulnerability, love, insecurity and melancholy. The film is pervaded by sentences like: „Sometimes I have the feeling of being just a body, an empty, dehumanized body. A body that doesn’t have the right to feel, that exists only to feel mutely.“ Such statements foreshadow the social and political violence Sadik’s protagonists endure. At the same time, the characters’ monologues also open up paths to self-love, as Félix Boogie Éwanjé-Épée and Stella Magliani-Belkacem noted in their text on Sadik’s exhibition Hlel Academy at CAC Bretigny 2021. Finally, love for oneself and for one’s people proves to be a source of energy that makes it possible to overcome social oppression and exclusion.

Sadik lives and works in Marseille (France) and has shown her work in various international institutions and festivals such as Manifesta 13 (2020) in Marseille (France), at Sadie Coles HQ Gallery in London (UK), the MoMa Warsaw (Poland), Palais de Tokyo Paris (France), or the Video Art Festival in Turku (Finland).

Her work is part of the collection of the Musée d’art Moderne de Paris and the FRAC Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur in France among others.

Ultimate Vatos: Force & Honneur is the artist’s first institutional solo exhibition in Germany and is curated by Oriane Durand and Kristina Scepanski.

The exhibition will be on view until June 6, 2022 at Westfälischer Kunstverein, Munster, Germany.