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Program : Installations


Life on the CAPS


Life on the CAPS, 2022

Single-channel video, 34 min

Artist : Meriem Bennani

Venue : World Travel Service

The final instalment of the titular sci-fi trilogy (2017–22) by Meriem Bennani follows the lives of inhabitants detained on CAPS, a swamp-rimmed island, where the mythological reptile “Croco” serves as idol and mascot. Short for capsule, the island-turned-refugee camp is home to illegal immigrants intercepted by “troopers” mid-teleportation from Africa across the Atlantic to the United States. The artist constructs a peculiar world fusing CGI and remixing visual tropes of digital content, advertising, and reality TV to humorously explore themes of bio and surveillance technologies, data, state control, and forced displacement—a stark reflection of our present-day realities. 

In this episode, Bennani zooms in on a burgeoning liberation movement on CAPS that bridges across three generations, in a future where ages, bodies, and places are interchangeable and can be upgraded, at a price. Amid the many personalities within the struggle are a DJ called Amyn and his 65-year-old father Kamal who acquires a new body to join the underground CAPsi resistance to defend their homeland. United in their pursuit of freedom, we witness the individuals and the collective, young and old, train their bodies and develop provisional weapons, in the form of call-and-response songs, techno tunes, counter-telecommunication systems, and makeshift cloaking technologies. Deliberately open-ended, we are left to speculate on the outcome of the face-off between CAPsi and the state troopers, and the realities and necessary sacrifices, be it the prime of youth, or in the father’s case, one’s lifetime, for a larger political cause. 

Co-commissioned by Renaissance Society, Chicago and Nottingham Contemporary, UK.