Preview: Massinissa Selmani: 1000 Villages

19 September–22 December 2024

Image: Detail from installation view, Massinissa Selmani, 1000 Villages, rhizome gallery 2023.
Image: Detail from installation view, Massinissa Selmani, 1000 Villages, rhizome gallery 2023.

This fall, Index Foundation presents a solo exhibition by French / Algerian artist Massinissa Selmani, titled 1000 Villages.

In December 2023, a solo exhibition of the same name was presented at rhizome gallery in Algiers, curated by Natasha Marie Llorens. Marti Manen, Isabella Tjäder and Jasmine Hinks of the Index team traveled to Algiers for the opening of the exhibition and the related public program.

In 2021, curator and art historian Natasha Marie Llorens invited Selmani to work collaboratively on an evolution of a work he had presented at the Venice Biennale in 2015 entitled 1000 Villages. Selmani’s point of departure for his original installation – the preparatory drawings for which are presented as part of the exhibition – was an archive of press clippings about an urban planning project initiated by the Algerian government in the mid-1970s under the aegis of the “Agrarian Revolution.” Its goal was to redevelop the agricultural sector of Algeria’s economy by collectivizing its infrastructure. Selmani was fascinated by how the 1000 socialist villages project transformed from myriad built forms into a sort of political rumor: people knew some villages had been established, but few had been to construction sites and even fewer knew why the project had been suspended. Selmani and Llorens’s inquiry was not scientific but rather an exploration of the bright effervescence of the 1000 villages in the landscape of contemporary Algerian history.

Now, a second iteration of Selmani’s exhibition will be adapted and presented at Index Foundation in Stockholm, curated by Natasha Marie Llorens in collaboration with the Index team.

A public program unfolds during the exhibition period, providing context along two parallel strands. The first strand establishes a frame of reference for Selmani’s artistic strategies and ways of working. The second creates space for discourse around the Algerian socio-political context since the 1960s, particularly the specificities of a political plan enacted through a socialist architectural project in the 1970s – the traces of which have been core material for Selmani.

Natasha Marie Llorens and Index arrange a series of talks and presentations in collaboration with ArkDes. With invited guests, the public program builds a platform to discuss the parallels between the most significant socialist architectural project in Sweden – namely The Million Program (Swedish: Miljonprogrammet) – and the bearing that the 1000 socialist villages project has in Algerian contexts.

The work by Massinissa Selmani (1980, Algeria) has been presented at Venice Biennale, Palais de Tokyo, Sharhah Biennial, Modern Art Oxford and the Biennale de Lyon among other art venues. Selmani was nominated to the Marcel Duchamp Prize in 2023.

The exhibition by Massinissa Selmani – curated by Natasha Llorens – offers an approach to Algeria in the 70s and the urbanism plans to create a new model for society.