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of FATMI Mounir

MOROCCO, FRANCE, 2004, 00:09:59

Production : FATMI Mounir
Genre : Video art
Keyword : Allegory, Politics, Society

Summary :
The image is slightly blurred and filmed from a distance, as if taken illicitly. Tourists look bored around the pool of a large hotel – one of these “hotel-clubs” that are springing up everywhere in Morocco, in Arab countries and indeed in all third world countries where Europeans and Americans
flock en masse, attracted by the promise of sunshine, encounters and lazing around on the cheap.

The video starts with a catcher in large letters in the window of a Parisian travel agent: “Less expensive earth”, with a kitsch decor of “holiday souvenirs”, jars of sand from the beaches of the world, labelled with the names of the countries where they were gathered. “Less expensive earth”: despite fears of terrorism, heightened since the attacks in Egypt and 9/11, natural disasters and health warnings, the figures from the World Tourism Organisation reveal that mass tourism,
especially to North Africa, is continuing to rise. In order to fill hotels that had been emptied by the fear of not coming back alive, the price of trips has collapsed, opening up a new area of consumption to people for whom it had previously been inaccessible. Could the man who is swimming in this luxurious pool even have access to the bar of such a hotel in France? Here the tourist wants everything: the illusion of riches, security – which is why he doesn't leave his hotel- , folklore. All this with an attitude of heedlessness that consigns him to blindness. This tourist moves around with his part of the world, his territory, without ever having to confront the reality
or foreignness of another world. He is not there to encounter otherness: doesn't need to, doesn't want to, he's there to relax, to spend, to enjoy himself without any ideological obstructions to his liberty, far from the worry and seriousness of “his” “real” world. As Yves Michaud writes, it is about
a “negative liberty where he looks to get rid of the quotidian, of routine and obligations, without necessarily getting away from the determinations of pleasure (...) and the charms of clichés and stereotypes. The tourist claims immunity: he shouldn't have to be victim of thugs, nor terrorists, nor even tidal waves or natural disasters.”*

Less expensive earth looks critically at the ambiguities of this tourism fed by post-colonialism. If on one hand people come with their currency to buy a little piece of a formatted dream at a low price, on the other the economy orders predictable scenes to be played out for tourists, not without a certain cynicism. From the traditional bazar moved into the middle of a hotel to the folk singer at the exotic evening buffet, everything is in place so that the tourist can compile the
necessary platitudes and return with a head full of images, which have been carefully tailored to his expectations, without actually having seen anything.

“When I am grown up I want to be a tourist” says a young schoolboy from Serrekunda in Gambia. Being a tourist, for Fatou, is having the power to move around the earth without visas or borders.
Such is the ambiguous relationship between tourism and immigration: the same charters, the same destinations, but with a totally different meaning. Migration may represent a power over space and time, a freedom to live, work and to enjoy oneself for some, for others it represents an impossible
dream or a forcible displacement.

“No one is more at home here than you” is the slogan of Israel's tourist office... but it is understood that this invitation is not addressed to everyone... not to Palestinians. For some, the earth has no price.

Less expensive earth was entirely filmed and edited in a hotel in Tangier, Morocco, and presented at the Gwangju Biennale (Korea) in 2006.

* Yves Michaud, preface to the exhibition catalogue “L’œil du touriste”, Galeries Patricia Dorfmann, Frédéric Giroux et Alain le Gaillard, Curated by Jeanne Truong, Paris, 2005

Translation: Caroline Rossiter.

puce to print

Original language : french
Original format : video
Aspect ratio : 4/3
Chroma : Couleur
Available version(s) : Version originale française

rental : 100 euros

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