I met Shourouk Rhaiem in 2017 during the Jean-Baptiste Marot exhibition. It was the first time that she finally dared to enter the gallery. She had stars in her eyes and a beaming smile. A student at Studio Berçot ten years earlier, she often walked past the gallery; she was fascinated by the works of artist Martin McNulty that I have displayed for many years. It was a revelation for her, and this wonder gave rise to a secret dream - to one day exhibit her work in my gallery.
What better gift could she give me? Isn’t making someone’s dream come true one of life’s greatest rewards? Shourouk is a strong woman, full of kindness. She confided in me with so much touching sincerity that I could not resist her desire.
The exhibition is the enhanced representation of an era where the pain of living was softened by utopian illusions of “the dream life”. Thedaughter of a Tunisian immigrant and a woman blessed with great beauty, Shourouk was born in Paris in 1980. The uncertainties of life andits disappointments forced her to cling to the image of an ideal existence fed to her by advertising. Child of the 80s - the years of glitter,money and performance; an ostentatious, unstructured and multicoloured era. Shourouk feels aggrieved, so she takes refuge and imaginesherself in these short films that exude happiness and family harmony.
Shourouk uses the “cut-up*” technique to perfect her vision of life. A little girl will always dream, and we remain children forever. Shourouk does not love herself, but this universe will reconcile her with herself. Even the blue of the sky also becomes brighter through the lens of advertising.
Shourouk clung to this dream and it became real. Fairytales exist, she knows what I’m talking about. There are wolves and witches, but there are also fairies and a Prince Charming.
“Before, I was ugly - my life was hell. I met him, he changed everything...it amuses me...life is great!” This exhibition could be a tribute to Alice Sapritch who brilliantly embodies the Jex Four advertisement.
Shourouk enhances each product that has accompanied her on her journey, which was sometimes filled with sadness. She puts them on a pedestal, makes them shine in the spotlight and thanks them. Sometimes we experience reality worse than it is; and sometimes we embellish it. The important thing is perhaps to make it a work of art. Shourouk elevates the image of the ordinary to make it extraordinary. Shourouk is “Jex-traordinary”!