In her XENON PALACE series, Sara Sadik turns gallery spaces into fictional hookah lounges.
At LUMA Arles, this ongoing project by the artist takes on a new, interactive dimension entitled XENON PALACE CHAMPIONSHIP (2023) in which the video is activated by the viewer. It features groups of men who gather to escape everyday life and compete against one another to train Xenons, fantastic creatures that emerge from wisps of smoke. A pair of hookah hoses, placed on either side of a large LED screen flanked by an army-grade PVC inflatable bench, feature gesture-recognition sensors and serve as controllers for a competitive fighting game, periodically interrupting the film. Starring Sadik’s close collaborator Émile-Samory Fofana as a lone-wolf protagonist striving to anchor his legacy by entering XENON PALACE’s Hall of Fame, the work furthers the artist’s exploration of masculine tropes and cultural alienation in virtual universes.
The exhibition is produced by the LUMA Arles & Google research initiative.
Sara Sadik (b. 1994) lives and works in Marseilles. Halfway between fiction and documentary, her video and performance work, inspired by video games, anime, science-fiction as well as French rap, puts forward characters facing challenges and striving to achieve moral and physical transformation through initiatory stories. Sadik’s works have been shown at Biennale de Lyon (2022); at Gladstone Gallery, New York (2022); MACRO Museum, Rome (2021); Matadero, Madrid (2021); Sadie Coles HQ, London (2021); Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin (2020); and Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2019).
LUMA Arles & Google research initiative
In furtherance of LUMA’s long-term focus on the creative potential of innovation, LUMA Arles presents a series of three commissions by Shahryar Nashat, Rachel Rose, and Sara Sadik. Produced as part of a landmark research initiative in partnership with Google to leverage next-generation technology in service of artists’ visions, and developed over the course of a year with leading engineers, the three projects have embedded a wide range of advanced techniques in the fields of artificial intelligence, ambient sensors, colorimetry, biometrics, and human-machine interaction. Rather than an end in itself, innovation is harnessed as a means to further artistic expression, with artists interrogating the liminal space between digital presence, cognition and physical engagement. In exploring the creative edge of today’s most advanced technological tools, LUMA and Google seek to foster an artist-centric dialogue in fast-developing fields where original voices need to be amplified.
Organized by Simon Castets, Vassilis Oikonomopoulos, with Fabian Gröning.
The LUMA Arles & Google research initiative is organized in partnership with Google ATAP, Google Arts & Culture, and Google Brain by Camille Bénech-Badiou, with Gabriel Vergara II.
Thanks to Dr. Joelle Barral, Dr. Olivier Bau, Dr. Lucas Dixon, Dr. Kelly Dobson, Laurent Gaveau, Sebastien Missoffe, Dr. Ivan Poupyrev, Emily Reif, Amit Sood, Jonathan Tanant.