“retorts” is a lasting luminous installation, springing from the traditional plays of lights and shadows in Arabian architecture and enriched with the imaginary of contemporary artists working all over the world.It takes place right in the heart of Algiers : the famous Tunnel des Facultés.

Walking or driving into the tunnel, the passer-by will enter an immaterial work of art, taking in its whole perception. This town-scale installation is grafted onto the public lighting network of Algiers so as to be switched on automatically and stage a new work of art every hou

Designed by artists whose formal and symbolic research is about light and shadow, these light etchings have crossed the planet to carve here, in the womb of Algiers, a multifarious imagery, evocative of both the particular and the universal.
The guest artists are Rachid Koraïchi, Daniel Laskarin, Farid Belkahia, William Kentridge, Gonçalo Ivo, Ene Kull, Ammar Bouras, Liz Rideal, Pinaree Sanpitak, Jyoti Bhatt, Richard Prince, Abderrazak Sahli, Meelis Salujärv, Gülsun Karamustapha, Ester Grinspum, Manisha Parekh, Denis Martinez, Rekha Rodwittiya, Sumi Wakiro, Lu Shengzhong, Nicola Durvasula, Adel El Siwi, Adlane Djeffal, Jacqueline Fabien.

Philippe Mouillon, Ester Grinspum,

A few tricks to tame the shadow

« retorts» is dedicated to the man-in-the-street, the tireless walker in the Tunnel des Facultés. I have spent so many hours watching him cross the Tunnel since my first visit in January 2002, guided in Algiers by Rachid Karachi! In turns easy-going, careless or exhausted, sometimes walking alone but most of the time in compact clusters swaying across together, it is never the same man nor the same woman who dives into the Tunnel and crosses the tube, immersed in the inner heart of Algiers, to re-emerge in the sun a few minutes later. Maybe there is nothing unusual in the renewed experience, yet it brings one on intimate terms with the daily underground town, its ancient foundations and moods, the womb of dreams, shadows and lights.

Lights, precisely! Now the passer-by will enter light, being totally immersed in it. Each crossing will be a unique experience to him as space will wrap him anew. Each carving of light will have crossed the planet to be inscribed here like a scratch or an etching, sometimes like a tattoo or a scar. For behind each work stands a sort of dazzling proliferation of the world, the dizzy diversity of life, there is an artist alive somewhere in the world, who from Cairo to Bangkok offers Algiers his own vision of light, his innermost recipe to tame shadow.For this first opus, here are the cocktails of shadows and lights from Ammar Bouras, then the dazzling epics of Rachid Koraichi, next the genii from the Egyptian Adel el Siwi, the cut out figures of Gülsun Karamustapha, and come from the Canadian Far West, Isle of Vancouver, the silhouettes of Daniel Laskarin.

Other Opus will follow, testifying to other practices in the world, other frail subtle tricks transmitted from Johannesburg or from Baroda.
Those impalpable images, whose life lasts as long as they persist on the retina, will all the same deeply implant in the heart of Algiers a daily complicity with foreign lights.

Philippe Mouillon