7 questions to Ikram Ben Brahim

Zoom this week on Ikram Ben Brahim, multidisciplinary woman artist, art critic, and teacher at the Higher Institute of Fine Arts in Sousse, Tunisia. It is with enthusiasm, that the founder of the collective "Plein Art", agreed to answer our 7 questions.

Ikram Ben Brahim enseignant à l'Institut Supérieur des Beaux-arts de Sousse

Hello Ikram, you are a multidisciplinary artist, art critic, and teacher at the Higher Institute of Fine Arts in Tunisia, can you tell us about your background?

Hello, my name is Ikram Ben Brahim of Tunisian origin. I am a multidisciplinary artist and my work intertwines painting, photography, weaving, performance and installation. I have participated in several exhibitions and artistic projects not only in Tunisia but also in Africa and abroad (France and Germany precisely). From 2015, until today, I work with my collective "Plein'Art" through various participations in artistic events, and the realization of projects that are in the spirit of contemporary art. I am also a Doctor in Sciences and Techniques of the Arts in search of new theories related to collective work, in order to establish my own philosophical, conceptual, and critical thinking. My post-doctoral writings have allowed me to be a specialist in art theory, and in particular in criticism through an international training on art criticism that I carried out in Mali within the framework of Ségou'Art 2019. Several articles have been published in African journals in countries of the African continent such as Senegal, Mali, Benin, Nigeria, Angola, as well as publications from the proceedings of colloquia by highlighting the artistic creation and its aesthetic reception. I am an academic and I teach not only theoretical subjects but also practical workshops.

Ikram Ben Brahim en action avec son collectif "Plein Art"

Tell us a little about the art collective you just created with other women artists?

In 2015, a new artistic adventure began where I created a Visual Arts collective composed of young female visual artists (Salma Belagi, Olfa guizani, Nour Ghanem, Amal Ayechi, Siwar Lazreg), visual artists (Yessine Mtaoua, Amine Melki) and video photographers (Mohamed Ali El Ouni and Moez Bouraoui). This collective is called "PLEIN'ART" which tends to bring art into the public space in Tunisia. It touches the spectators through the contemporary practices carried out, in order to invite them to see and perceive their reality differently. Exchange and sharing are two fundamental concepts through which our artistic practices evolve over time by putting forward, and in front of the question of the flash moment. Each woman artist is a member-light who illuminates by her imagination the collective work.

Le collectif Plein Art à l'oeuvre

Ikram, you are of Tunisian origin, what is the view that your society has on the current woman?

In my country, Tunisia, the woman has always occupied for centuries a preponderant place being in tune with the mutations and the advances of society. For Tunisia at its birth, has the face of a woman: that of the Phoenician princess Elyssa who arrived from Lebanon to the coasts of Tunisia, where she founded Carthage, a powerful city that radiated throughout the Mediterranean basin. Currently, the Tunisian society has a look of respect for the woman, considering the important role she plays in the evolution of the culture and even during the revolution and the democratic transition. Thus, Tunisian women are now more involved in the socio-cultural field.

According to you, what is the current position of women artists in Tunisia and in the world?

Currently, women artists in Tunisia occupy a considerable place in the artistic environment through the opening of their active and creative minds. They are increasingly numerous on the national and international art scene (photographers, video artists, painters, plastic artists ...) where the contemporary practices exposed and the themes addressed continue to multiply. The female plastic creation in Tunisia opens fields of exploration in a movement of social change. It highlights approaches, mediums, profiles and concerns, in order to arouse the imagination of spectators through the many participations in international biennials in Africa and Europe. Each woman artist creates her work while testifying to her experience and her current events to offer a new look at contemporary Tunisian creation. It shapes the landscape of are increasingly numerous on the art scene (photographers, video artists, painters, creation to conquer the world and illuminate the history of art in the country).

Which art styles do you think are the most successful?

The art styles are in the spirit of the so-called contemporary art, where the artistic practices are the result of the crossing of these styles. Video art, photography, installation, performance are artistic disciplines that intersect and offer a visual and plastic whole by creating a relationship with the viewer. This whole would be a way of making, receiving and thinking art through this diversity of forms and mediums leading to freedom of expression, evolution and innovation.

Why did you contact our gallery?

I contacted your gallery "La Maison Melem France" because it deals with Art and Design which, nowadays, are problematized and pose quite rich issues in the artistic field and in relation to the art profession. It also seems to me that there is an incredible strength, especially among women who, today, are at the forefront of contemporary creation and in the search for a new mode of action and imagination. This gallery that accepts only women artists tends to question contemporary art itself.

What does art mean to you and the women in your collective?

For me and my collective, art represents a way of life-based on a certain philosophy. This way of life allows undertaking the reconquest of the being, in order to travel in the opacities of the world and to wander in the imaginary. This collective imaginary resulting from the meeting of the individual imaginary allows supporting the emergence of new modalities of "living together". In the same space, a passage is created from here to elsewhere where the work is considered as a "commonplace" allowing us to question our relationship to society. In other words, opening up to the presence of the creative imagination that is externalized in the collective work is the famous means by which the individual imagination can be transformed into a collective imagination, in order to reach a cultural change and a social transformation. The open way between the "I" and the "You" founds the community of a "We" which designates the link of sharing of the being-in-the-world with-others. It is about the art of being in the world and with the world, in order to create with the other and thanks to the other.