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Born in 1995.
Lives and works in Lille.

Through a protean practice, Malik Mara offers a sensitive reading of the contemporary world based on his personal experiences. Often conceived as a kind of visual poem, Malik Mara's works are invitations to question the world around us and its singularities. From rubbish drifting slowly on the surface of the water to corals that inevitably turn white, to castles of tar collapsing on themselves, his installations are like odes to the passing of time and the vestiges it leaves in its wake.

Artwork above: Dérive, 2020. Vidéo couleur, 5'


A quick, distracted glance at Malik Mara's work would reduce it to a simple, hackneyed "alchemy of opposites"; a mischievous, skilful juxtaposition of forms, materials and symbols that are a priori opposites - especially in their respective states: the gradient and the efflorescent, the durable and the fleeting, the near and the far, the trivial and the sublime. 


One might consider these plastic oxymorons, which Bertrand Lavier would not disavow, happy if grating: this château cast not in the light sand of a "vacation" shoreline, but in the acrid, sticky tar of urbanity; this pyromaniac bite on the side of a garbage can that "after the ashes" sutures and even overflows into a dapper, unexpected bloom; these rusty chains that "with patience" both hold and devour the crimson pullulement of a weed, this familiar injunction to save energy, brazenly neonized and supercharged, even though "we're not in Versailles here", could stick to this playful poetics of discrepancy, neither too directed to appear improbable (and therefore insignificant), nor too haphazard not to create meaning. There's no doubt that each of these works contains meaning, if only because they are the fruit of a context: residency, collaboration, experimentation, memory, anecdote, or even a news item. And yet, beyond the circumstances that explain their genesis and purpose, but would not suffice to exhaust their full significance, it could be that they share, in the antagonistic logic that underlies them, a deeper, latent, unspoken meaning - probably because they relate to what the artist himself claims as a central theme: time. Malik Mara is constantly on the lookout for it, scrutinizing it, approaching it, touching it, manipulating it in and among the various contexts in which we experience it.


From then on, the objects, images and materials he combines, sometimes in the company of third parties, are more akin to the intimate-historical ready-mades of Danh Vo or the nostalgic, prosaic assemblages of Stéphanie Saadé. For the time he seeks, brushes against and aggregates is neither metaphorical nor, consequently, vertiginous: it is manifest time, that which we glimpse in the unforeseen detours of everyday life as well as in the depths of our most mundane habits, on the surface of trinkets we never really care about without at least forgetting them, or at the angle of faces we love and follow over the years; yet it is also the concrete time of the world, of the seasons and the elements. It's the time that remains before the high tide of today and the destruction, in a few waves, of the fragile construction that the children have abandoned for a swim or other games, mingled in a hasty casting with that which, in several decades' time, will have made it necessary to repair the road, worn down by the incessant comings and goings of motorists or by the jolts of winter frosts and summer heatwaves. It's the time, slow and imperceptible even to the most attentive eye, repeated every spring, of the bud's blossoming, then of the flower's blooming and finally of its withering, to compensate for that of the lively, hurried flame that has just found its fuel and already seems to have reduced it to the wound its volutes draw. Time worked, declined, confronted. Time is palpable, but no less elusive - and, for us, over: the flowers fade, the sun sets, the water carries away twigs and "black thoughts", the light is turned off. Soon enough, mono no aware comes to mind, a feeling that medieval Japan detected in the terrible yet endearing beauty of the impermanence of the things we are.


Malik Mara's works are all the more precious for this, because by confronting different but inevitably defined temporalities, they open up a new one that transcends the purely formal and spatial stakes of the work of art itself. That of an open, malleable meditation on the state of a world doomed, in the words of sociologist and philosopher Hartmut Rosa, to a technical and social "acceleration" that contaminates the rhythm of our lives, condemned to a time "petrified" by the vain rush to absorb the false abundance promised by virtual idols and closed algorithms. A world whose vulnerability and instability are now inescapable, and where our hours are hardly the only ones being cut short. Indeed, it's perhaps no coincidence that two of the pieces presented here are, almost metonymically, sand and fire: hourglass and candle in Gaston Bachelard's Dialectic of Duration, which contrasts "horizontal", common, contextual and pragmatic time, which watches and clocks "live" for us, with "vertical", particular, discontinuous and subjective time, which we feel at the whim of the moment. From one to the other, from linear, rational time that is prone to acceleration to the time that our lives fragment and experience, there is probably as much as there is between the simple, formal short-circuits that Malik Mara's proposals appear to be and the subtle chronological weavings they end up revealing to us.


"The flame is an hourglass flowing upwards. [...] Flame and hourglass, in peaceful meditation, express the communion of light and heavy time. [...] I would like to dream of time, of duration that flows and duration that flies away, if I could bring together in my imaginary cell the candle and the hourglass", wrote Bachelard in La Flamme d'une chandelle. In the visual continuum paradoxically engendered by the contradictory temporalities of which they are made, Malik Mara's works could fulfill this wish. Because they bring the viewer back to the inevitable concreteness of time (which we might think has become the artist's preferred material), whatever experience he or she may have of it through or in spite of them; but also because they awaken him or her to what the hourglass of our age conceals of our inner flames. For Bachelard, what a numerical, accounting vision of the world doesn't say about it - about life, about dreams - is precisely what it blurs and diminishes. Herein lies the profound vocation of the sort of temporal collages that bind together all Malik Mara's work: in highlighting the paradoxes of "our time", where stubborn beliefs mingle with harrowing doubts, constantly renewed utopias with unresolved failures. Where not everyone accelerates at a similar pace. Where the nearest elsewhere remains distant and unknown to some, despite high-speed trains, low-cost flights and hyper-connected screens. Where nature has become alien even to those who now use it more than they cultivate it. Where we tease the immensity of the galaxies with rockets and satellites, without knowing how to oppose our own finitude with anything more than pretty bouquets that soon wither.


Through all this reversed, distraught, alienated time, the possibility of enchantment persists. A dream of a beach on roads that don't lead there; of a graceful anthesis encouraged less by the magic of fine weather than by phytosanitary chemistry; of a secret resurrection on the pale marble of neglected tombs. May these works last, in our eyes and minds, for more than a fleeting moment.

Nicolas Valains

Artwork above: L'Échappée, 2019. Ice cubes 15 x 25 x 15 cm and balloons.


Né en 1995.

Vit et travaille à Lille. 



Master 2 Exposition/production des œuvres d’art contemporain, Université de Lille


DNSEP, École supérieure d’art du Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Dunkerque/Tourcoing

Master 1 Exposition/production des œuvres d’art contemporain, Université de Lille


DNA, École supérieure d’art du Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Dunkerque/Tourcoing



Court-circuit, Deûlémont, France

L'Eau et les rêves, Château d'Esquelbecq, France

Dystopia, Galerie Bacqueville, Lille, France


Biennale de la jeune création contemporaine (avec Julie Gaubert), Motoco, Mulhouse, France

D’Argile à deux barres d’or
Restitution de résidence Dimensions variables, Pradelles-en-Val, France


L’Accueil froid, L’Accueil froid, Amiens, France


Air Fictions, particules en suspension, Galerie Commune, Tourcoing, France


Collisions, Espace Croisé, centre d’art contemporain, Roubaix, France


Skate or die muséographie, La maison des ensembles, Paris, France

Inquiétante étrangeté, Espace 36 BIS, Tourcoing, France


Expoflash, Galerie Commune, Tourcoing, France


Le Parasitisme de couvée - Restitution de workshop avec le département sculpture de l’École La Cambre, Centre culturel de Sartène, Corse

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