Palm Attacks: A few invasive species

Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin (IT)
21 September - 15 October, 2017

Curated by Lorenzo Balbi at Fondazione

Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo celebrates its sixth year of collaboration with Lyon’s ENSBA - École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts, presenting the first-ever solo show in Italy by Ghita Skali, a participant in the 2017 Post-Diplome promoted by ENSBA.
Born in 1992 in Casablanca, Ghita Skali studied at the contemporary art school of Villa Arson in Nice, and is currently part of the artist doctorate program of the Fine Arts Academy of Clermont-Ferrand. She lives and works between Cairo and Casablanca. Her work is marked by a strong concern for social issues and an interest in forms of subversion, and often deals with these subjects in an ironic way. Ghita Skali develops her works through different media such as writing, photography, video, performance and installation, structuring them around the representation of identity, even in its vernacular aspects.

Palm Attacks: a few invasive species is the exhibition which Ghita Skali designed for the space of Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo. The artist presents new works combined into a one-off installation. Starting from a new kind of sub-tropical landscape, the artist’s research focuses on the recent use of artificial palm trees within the urban fabric, and its aesthetic and social implications. Today these plants, which are the product of advanced technological processes, provide the most modern camouflage system for communication devices, becoming a paradigm for strategies aimed at integrating the natural and urban landscapes.

Ghita Skali gives us a picture of Morocco as the privileged testing ground of an engineering effort to alter landscape morphology, motivated by financial speculation. Changes in the public space are examined in relation to their effects on the collective unconscious, as they pass off as new, undisputed achievements in the ‘modern’ heritage of a nation.

Making this framework situation even more paradoxical is a reference to the Moroccan Authenticity and Modernity Party, which the artist includes among the themes of her installation, and which has very close ties to some of the biggest camouflage firms. The palm tree, an international symbol for the exotic, is completely recast as a new expression of the globalized world.

Palm Attacks: a few invasive species is organized as a possible showroom for an almost propaganda-like display of these new aesthetic objects. The exhibition includes a few sculptural items which allude to the current artificial production of Phoenix Dactylifera, the common date palm, along with video works. In the videos, a guided visit recorded by a tourist, and an interview with an economist, become fictional devices chosen by the artist to reflect on the social effects generated by the new landscape. The videos also contain sequences of images and sounds found on the Internet, which were integrated in to the videos as a contextualization device. The showroom of Palm Attacks echoes with the sound of a female, grotesque voiceover, the only jarring note in the installation: a modern Cassandra announces that the new palm trees will bring misfortune and catastrophes.
As an addition to the exhibition, Skali opened “Palm_attacks”, an Instagram account where she collects images of artificial palms sent by users on her request. The mapping revealed the impossibility to reconstruct a single, shared meaning among the communities involved in this change of landscape.

Photos: Giorgio Perottino


Actors: Abdelghani Bouzian, Eric Valentin, Eva Taris, Anas Bakohi, Mabil Dourgal, Fati Hejiuiy and Voktorie Knotkova.

Assistant of the Project: Zoë Grant
Curator: Lorenzo Balbi
Assistant Curator: Bernardo Follini
Sound Editing: Rémi Riault