Gymnasium (Pictorial, Blue), 2020

Ben Hamouda’s series Gymnasium represents the attempt to portray the complexities and contradictions of the phenomenon of cultural assimilation, a process through which an individual or a group abandons their own culture and tries to take on the dominant one, forgoing their heritage. Dedicated to this process, the sculpture, a daughter of two cultures, offers a portrait of a hybrid living between the biblical story of St. Agatha and the complex abstraction of Islamic art. In an attempt to create a symbol, the silicone breasts resting on a mirrored surface transform into something magical or religious through calligraphic ink markings.

Gymnasium, a Latin term, refers to a place of exercise, a preparatory space to study more advanced theories and skills. This practice contributes to the consolidation of a faculty and thus of assimilation. Ben Hamouda’s Gymnasium is a sculptural exercise that holds an entirely critical space, while still practicing and training within canonical genres such as still life, figuration, calligraphy and more.