11 Apr 2024 - 29 Jun 2024

Younès Ben Slimane: Images de Tunisie

Zaha Hadid Foundation


The Zaha Hadid Foundation (ZHF) presents Tunisian artist Younès Ben Slimane’s first solo exhibition in the UK, Images de Tunisie, which opens on 11 April 2024 at the Foundation’s gallery in Clerkenwell, London. ZHF commissioned Ben Slimane to research and create new work that relates to cultural hybridity and interdisciplinarity in architecture and the built environment. The exhibition brings together three of his films exploring the meaning of images and architectural legacies in Tunisia. It includes Images de Tunisie (2024), a newly commissioned film by ZHF.

Images de Tunisie (2024) is an intimate portrayal of Tunisia’s architectural landscape and its atmospheres, memories and traditions. The film appropriates ethnographic documentaries on architecture and rural life in Tunisia, sourced from France’s national audiovisual archive (INA). Scenes from 1940s newsreels produced by Les Actualités Françaises are combined with new footage from the same sites, including Matmata, Douiret and Tameghza.

Ben Slimane said: “The film’s title is adopted from Georges Barrois’ ethnographic documentary Images de Tunisie (1946), which interested me for its ability to create images and shape narratives. I reappropriated extracts from this, and other historic documentaries produced by Les Actualités Françaises, by manipulating the voiceovers of the scenes. Last year, I returned to the sites featured in these films to recapture the scenes from my personal vantage point.”

The exhibition also features Parallel (2018), which presents the interplay between steam and natural light inside of interior of a hammam in Hammamet, where the first public baths in the city were built by the Romans. In addition, All Come From Dust (2019) is an exploration into the preservation of the craftmanship of bricklaying in Tozeur, where Ben Slimane’s ancestors lived and worked. He said: “At the heart of my artistic process lies a fascination with the spirit of places, in which every location possesses a unique essence shaped by its history, people and environment. I immerse myself in these surroundings to embrace the sights, sounds and atmospheres that define a place, to uncover its hidden stories within the echoes of the past.”

Johan Deurell, Curator (ZHF), said: “Younès Ben Slimane has created a beautiful and complex new film by layering and altering historic depictions of Tunisian architecture and adding new footage and sound. Images de Tunisie is a commentary on the evolution of cinematic language, shifting power dynamics and the meaning of images.”

Jane Pavitt, Head of Research and Learning (ZHF), said: “In the spirit of Zaha’s own interdisciplinary practice, our new commission explores creative approaches to the built environment, foregrounding and celebrating cultural diversity.”

The exhibition has been conceived with support from Kvadrat and France’s Institut national de l’audiovisuel (INA).

The exhibition’s graphic identity is designed by Offshore.

Press release from Zaha Hadid Foundation

Image: Younès Ben Slimane. Still from Images de Tunisie. 2024. Image courtesy of the artist and Zaha Hadid Foundation