The word ‘community’ has come to signify an unquestionably positive thing in recent years. A kind of ultimate good, fix-all solution to society’s ills. Indeed, it has a huge role to play in tackling many of the challenges we face, such as the rise of far-right populism, factionalism, and social division; the mental health crisis; or the climate crisis. But is it helpful to treat the notion of ‘community’ in such broad-brush, blanket terms? No community, after all, exists without its problems. And at what price might belonging to one come?
For his first UK institutional solo exhibition, My Immortal, at MOSTYN in Llandudno, Wales, artist and poet Tarek Lakhrissi will create a multi-dimensional installation consisting of new and existing works spanning film, sculpture, text and performance. The show seeks to provide a nuanced examination of community, including what constitutes community, and how it can exist as a paradoxical space that offers both love, empowerment and protection, but also nightmares, traumas and fears. These complex tensions are explored in relation to John Milton’s 17th-century epic poem Paradise Lost, in which a community framed as offering paradisiacal solace disintegrates as a result of its fragilities.
At the heart of much of Lakhrissi work lies the tensions that can exist between an individual and a community, with particular focus on the question of how an individual or a marginalised or persecuted group can defend themselves in order to maintain their identity and stay alive in an unapologetic way. The central installation will become a ‘battleground’, using this metaphor for notions of defence and self-defence to help queer communities of colour fight back against societal violence and, in so doing, find a path of love and transformation.