The Stedelijk Museum presents a series of photos and a video based on Mohamed Bourouissa’s experience working with an African American community in Philadelphia and observing its tradition of equestrianism.
Algerian-born Mohamed Bourouissa’s current exhibition “Horseday” continues in the vein of his previous projects where he composes photographic images of the daily lives of his subject with the same care and verve as the grand masters of painting.
Opening on 10 September 2016 and running until 1 January 2017, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam presents “Horseday”, a solo exhibition containing images and a two-channel video by the Algerian-born, Paris-based artist Mohamed Bourouissa. This exhibition is part of an ongoing project by the same name that documents Borouissa’s experience starting in 2013 with an African American community in North Philadelphia with a tradition of equestrianism. While the film focuses on the everyday life of this community, the images reveal the grandeur of this community’s equestrian tradition by staging and documenting a competition for the most elegantly dressed horse.
The community Borouissa documents is based in North Philadelphia around the Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club, which has been in existence for over 100 years. In 2008 the club came under fire from animal rights organisations resulting in the club’s buildings being demolished by the city. The club continued to thrive due to the dedication of its community, and six years later Borouissa assisted the Club in reclaiming the land for the purposes of staging the images and video which would become “Horseday”.
The subject of “Horseday” began with an event called a horse tuning. Riders from the Fletcher Club teamed up with local artists to create an equine vehicle of sorts where they glamorously outfitted each horse for a riding competition, which Borouissa then documented. Similarly to American filmmaker Kahlil Joseph’s 2013 film Wild Cat, Borouissa’s “Horseday” sheds a little bit more light on the history and existence of the Black cowboy. Despite media depictions, Black cowboys were the norm in the American west. In a 2013 BBC article, Jim Austin, Founder of the National Multicultural Western Heritage Musem, states:
I bet you nine out of 10 people in this country think that cowboys were all white – as I did. In the real Old West, as opposed to the film depiction, black cowboys were a common sight.
Mohamed Bourouissa (b. 1978, Blida, Algeria) is a photographer and film artist whose work focuses on the seemingly hidden characteristics of the systems at play in our societies and the ways in which the social processes we take for granted develop and are executed. After graduating from the Ecole Nationale des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, Bourouissa launched into the international art world, garnering a lot of attention as a result of his series Périphérique, which documented the unrest bubbling up onto the streets of Paris’ banlieues (suburbs). What makes Borouissa stand apart from other photographers and filmmakers documenting social issues is that he gains the permission and the trust of the communities he documents and is able to work inside and in collaboration with these communities.
Negarra A. Kudumu
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