For Amina Agueznay, the artistic process begins with the evaluation and appropriation of space. As an architect/designer/archivist/artist, she is steeped in the vernacular of the diverse environments in which her work has evolved, and finds universality in the particular details of a place.
At the Institute, the exhibition space is shared between two artists: Agueznay (Morocco) and Janna Syvänoja (Finland). They hadn’t met, but began to exchange reflections, communicating with each other through colour and texture. These exchanges revived Agueznay’s own visual and physical impressions of Finland and its forests – the soft colours of lichen, of northern light filtering through the tree canopy.
The process continues. Known for her large-scale museum installations, Agueznay pursues her exploration of her “The Garden Inside” series (Loft Art Gallery, Casablanca, 2020). Her chosen medium is living wool – custom hand-dyed in Morocco –, which she transforms to recreate the scattered textures of the forest. To accomplish this, she creates her own matter, wrapping the wool around slender, supple iron rods. The medium is stripped to its imaginary core, reduced to a line, a tool for drawing. This is the first phase of creation. Agueznay then sketches the forest; branches reach skyward, expanding vertically in undulated alignment. The different compositions offer fleeting glimpses of imagined landscapes, like snapshots, strata, the fading memories of a place. Each composition exists, like a diorama, within a series of rectangular boxes that transform the space. She used a similar device in her monumental installation, Noise (MACAAL, Marrakech, 2019), a cocoon-like room lined with 210 50 x 50 x 25 cm containers. Both Noise and Instants-Moments exist within a framework, but the immersive environment of the earlier work has fallen away. Here the spectator is detached, observing the work, as one might experience a first visit to a foreign place.
The first phase of the work is to create the medium. Once the wool is dyed, wrapped and assembled into planes, the second phase of creation begins, when the matter is engineered into individual constellations. At this point of the process that the work becomes three-dimensional, and new perceptions come into play. Looking at the constellations from above, in aerial view, one might observe shapes that evoke the “algae” forms of Malika Agueznay, the artist’s mother and an original member of the Casablanca School. There is an intentionality of line that shifts from a frontal perception, in which each wool-wrapped rod might represent an absolutely vertical form or tree, to an aerial perception, in which the perimeter becomes line, and the articulated planes are perceived horizontally, in undulating, organic form. Each constellation is an individual structure that occupies its own defined space, like a series of architectural scale models. The circular interplay between the natural world of forest and wool and the mechanical world of architectural engineering creates a strange and powerful duality. The viewer is caught between a modernist urban construct and the utopian quiet of the Finnish forest. Noise gives way to silence.
Kristi A. Jones