. Conversations at the Edge (CATE)

Meriem Bennani

Posted by | otaper | Posted on | March 3, 2022

Thursday, March 03, 6:00 p.m.

Join artist Meriem Bennani for a screening of her works Party on the CAPS (2018), Guided Tour of a Spill (2021), and 2 Lizards (co-directed with Orian Barki, 2020). Presented in partnership with the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, in conjunction with the exhibition Meriem Bennani, and the Open Practice Committee in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago.

A large blue computer rendered globe with the words USA, CAPS, MOROCCO, and SPAIN hovering over the outlines of states.

Meriem Bennani, Party on the CAPS, 2018. Image courtesy of the artist

In her genre-bending and often absurdly funny videos, Rabat-born, New York–based artist Meriem Bennani fuses the languages of reality television, social media, and 3D animation to explore such weighty topics as biopolitics, virtuality, and globalism. In conjunction with the exhibition of her latest film Life on the CAPS at the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, Bennani presents a selection of related works. Party on the CAPS (2018) and Guided Tour of a Spill (2021) introduce viewers to a speculative future where teleportation has replaced air travel and a small island in the Atlantic is a creolized megacity populated by detained migrants. 2 Lizards (2020), her collaboration with filmmaker Orian Barki, chronicles the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic as it unfolded in real time. Originally released bi-weekly on Instagram, the series captures the surreality of lockdown and the growing social fissures exacerbated by systemic inequities and racism.

2018–2021, USA, Morocco, ca. 64 minutes plus discussion
Digital video
In Arabic, English, and French with English subtitles


Party on the CAPS, 2018, video, 26 minutes
Narrated by an animated crocodile, Meriem Bennani’s recent film Party on the CAPS is a docunarrative exploring the robust, technologically advanced, and totally hybridized culture of a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean called The CAPS. The film follows residents of a Moroccan neighborhood on the island–who, like all of the CAPS’ inhabitants, are refugees rejected by the United States—as they hang out, party, and otherwise go about their lives in this speculative society. Blending science-fiction and geopolitical realities, Party on the CAPS addresses immigration, surveillance, the real and the virtual, and globalized culture with humor and empathy. (Rhizome)

Guided Tour of a Spill, 2021, video, 15 minutes
Guided Tour of a Spill animates how the American Troopers snatch migrants from thin air and stash them on The CAPS. Meanwhile, the inhabitants have claimed their prison as their new homeland. Bennani’s work is gleefully fugitive in its own way, reveling in the space between animated and live, digital and analog, fantasy and documentary. And in her world, as in ours, the glitches and failures of tech produce new traumas alongside fresh freedoms. (Travis Diehl, Art in America)

2 Lizards, Co-directed with Orian Barki, 2020, video, 23 minutes
In spring 2020, during the COVID-19 lockdown in New York City, artist Meriem Bennani and filmmaker Orian Barki took to social media: the pair collaborated on eight episodes of 2 Lizards, releasing a short video every few weeks on Instagram. This animated series chronicled the socially disrupted lives of the eponymous reptiles, voiced by the artists themselves, through a collaborative, diaristic approach that reflected the unfolding of the pandemic in real time. Using a combination of 3D animation and real footage shot, for example, in an empty Times Square, the series perfectly captures the range of emotions particular to lockdown, from dreamlike detachment to anxiety and, eventually, impassioned protest. 2 Lizards is an artistic time capsule that uses humor and poignant emotion to explore the societal fissures that formed around the pandemic, and its intersection with systemic racism. (Museum of Modern Art)


Spanning video, sculpture, multimedia installation, drawing, and social media, Meriem Bennani’s often satiric and humorous works draw from globalized popular culture and Moroccan history. Solo exhibitions of her work have been held at C L E A R I N G, Brooklyn; The Kitchen, New York; Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris; Art Dubai; MoMA PS1, New York; and SIGNAL, Brooklyn. Her work has also been featured in numerous group exhibitions, including the Whitney Biennial, New York; Biennale de l’Image en Mouvement, Geneva/Turin; Public Art Fund, New York; Shanghai Biennale; Jewish Museum, New York; Saatchi Gallery, London; MANA Contemporary, New Jersey; and Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Bennani’s work is part of the collections of the Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris; Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris; Kadist, Paris; and FRAC Ile-de-France, Paris.