Carthage Presidence
signed, inscribed and dated and signed and dated again 'Nadia Kaabi Linke Tunis 2008 Nadia Kaabi Linke 2008' (on the reverse)
ink pigments on paper laid on canvas, in two parts
left panel: 3912 x 13618in. (100.4 x 345.6cm.)
right panel: 3912 x 3618in. (100.4 x 91.7cm.)
overall: 3912 x 17218in. (100.4 x 437.3cm.)
Executed in 2009
Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai.
Private Collection, UAE.
Dubai, Lawrie Shabibi, Materialize, 2019.
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Lot Essay

Carthage Présidence is a remarkable work from Nadia Kaabi-Linke's renowned series, 'Archive of Tunis Banalities', which was produced in 2009 and marked her debut solo exhibition in Tunisia. This work serves as a social mirror of pre-Arab Spring Tunisia, offering insight into the country's social and political state leading up to the 2011 Revolution. Kaabi-Linke's wall prints, a central part of her practice, give voice to the collective sentiments of the people's rebellion against dictatorship, revealing their private thoughts and frustrations etched onto the walls of Tunisian buildings.

Kaabi-Linke's creative process and approach is a political one. In Carthage Présidence, this is brought through a desire to hear the voices of the people and the whispers of thoughts written on the wall and which have been silenced in Tunisia. Her process is also an inherently political one as she defies social norms and reclaims the streets of Tunisia to produce the works. By bringing her studio to public spaces, the urban walls become an extension of her studio, and the work becomes an extension of what lies in the people's minds and the country's spirit.

Kaabi-Linke embarked on her journey with wall imprints in 2008 and has since refined her artistic method as she continues to develop her body of work. Her process involves an intimate dialogue with the wall's surface, allowing her to discover the hidden stories and meanings embedded within. To capture these textures, she takes rubbings of the surface with wax, highlighting the symbolic drawings, letters, or phrases left by locals and passers-by. As she works, Kaabi-Linke also captures the overheard conversations of people around her, revealing the pulse of the community and the areas where she finds the walls. She uses Chinese ink to delicately trace over the wall rubbings, imbuing the surfaces with a lively vibrancy that brings the prints to life.

Carthage Présidence is a seed in the artist's journey to unravel the history of her country and its people through surface impressions. This work is a wall print taken from an exterior wall of the Presidential Palace, located on the coast in the Carthage area of Greater Tunis. She often noticed this wall on her daily commute to art school and was captivated by its intricate layers - each engraving overlaying the last, creating an almost abstract work of art through the symbols and words left behind. This wall was particularly unique among others in that the engravings made by school children from the local French school were devoid of sexual expressions or insults, adding an intriguing dimension of innocence to her otherwise controversial series. Despite the innocent nature of the engravings made by the school children, the artist soon realized that the location of the wall itself made the work fundamentally political as she came in contact with the special police who accused her of misconduct.

Carthage Présidence encapsulates the artist's goal to create work highlighting our indexical relationship with the world. She does not work with fiction nor invent things that are not there. Instead, she creates art from that which already exists, capturing the elements of our surroundings that go unnoticed and finding meaning in the banalities of the everyday. Every wall print Kaabi-Linke creates is unique as it records and shares the stories of a specific context. Transforming the surface of the wall and the inscriptions left by locals into a work of art, Carthage Présidence presents the language of the youth – their initials, drawings, and words – in a light that has never been seen before. Kaabi-Linke hears their voices and amplifies them, providing a glimpse into the collective consciousness of a nation undergoing political transformation.

Comparable examples of Carthage Présidence can be found in prestigious collections, including Arter, Istanbul; M+, Hong Kong; Barjeel Collection, Sharjah and Burger Collection, Hong Kong and Switzerland.

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