I was a bartender at the café Fluctuat Nec Mergitur in Paris during the winter of 2019-2020, hired by Lalla Kowska Reigner. This all-glass venue is in the middle of the Place de la République. I was asked to decorate the windows of the café, for which I proposed a series of silks stretched like stained glass. The closure of the café following the confinement did not allow me to install them in situ.
The winter 2019-2020 particularly rich in events, the location of the café, attracted a politicized and joyful clientele with whom I shared discussions. Their sociability and solicitude created a human solidarity stripped of posturing. I chose to make them the subject of my paintings.
Sensitized by the sincerity of their struggles and the collective joy, I accompany them on June 13, 2020 during a demonstration against racism and police brutality. Without much experience of demonstrations, I found myself trapped by the CRS without understanding their intentions. Despite my calmness, they end up beating me and dragging me to the ground. This was followed by a 48-hour police custody, followed by a referral to the parquet which added another 20 hours. I learn that they accuse me of having assaulted a policeman with a glass bottle, claiming that a video would testify to this (which I have never been able to see). A powerful and purely oral solidarity was formed with my fellow prisoners, which enabled me to cope psychologically with the ordeal. We were all profiled, black, Arab and disadvantaged, I was mistaken for an Islamist according to them and my lawyer. After three days in prison I was released with a reminder of the law under the false accusation of CRS, obliging me to be blameless for six years, under penalty of a severe trial. I still have a feeling of solidarity from this experience, which has not left me after the shock and trauma.
When I returned home I decided to use my paintings on my balcony, among the sheets of the other balconies where our demands were written during the 2020 confinement. During my exhibition at the Salon du Salon in Marseille, I chose to present them on the balcony, a transitional space between the domestic and the public space where Zineb Redouane was murdered by the CRS.