Tayeb Bayri is an artist born in 1986 in Casablanca Morocco. He is a member of PEZCORP collective, Labeur, and music duo Bazoga. He holds a Master's degree in Graphic Design and Fine Arts from HEAR Strasbourg. Much of Bayri’s works revolve around the internet and digital culture that is simultaneously cheeky and introspective. Bayri is currently “based online” and in between Paris and Casablanca.
How would you define your work?
My work is mainly web based, code, music and video. It deals with memory (collective/individual), stories (stories, histories, history) and the metaphysics of 3d.
Given that much of your work is highly influenced by the internet, what do you believe is the role of platforms such as Instagram in the art world and specifically in your own work?
The Internet I’m interested in most is the one in which you search for something on google, find a blog/page with an embedded audio player playing music, you click the link and land on “user18081971” soundcloud page with 250+ tracks you’ve never heard, comment on a track, get a response, and find out you were actually talking to Richard D. James Instagram and Snapchat (among others) created new ways of having conversations and new exciting ways of connecting with people. They are home to amazing things, but they are hermetically closed bubbles and they put on a lot of effort in making sure the content they generate stays within their borders. I don’t really see them as part of the— let’s call it “classic” — Internet: that place of open interconnection of things and ideas with more or less blurry borders we experienced for many years... It’s not against those platforms, for me, it’s just the same as not considering Netflix as being part of the classic Internet although Netflix uses 1/3rd of North American Internet bandwidth at times. Those services use the network, but they are not playing its game. Also, the isolated island topology of Instagram/Snapchat could explain why there are so many artists making Instagram/Snapchat specific work… do I sound like an old angry guy yet? :)
Flagback is for “nationalists and nationalists haters to come together” as stated in your description of the work and has heightened political overtones with circumstances such as Brexit and the refugee ban. Is this work a response to our political reality today?
Flagback started as a silly drawing I made in the “Prefecture de Strasbourg”, while waiting for my turn for the visa application. It showed two people making love over the flag of France in a variety of sexual positions/roles. It was both a very nationalist idea (think of the people who hang flags in their bedrooms), and a very anti-nationalist symbols idea (think of people mistreating flags). It was in late 2011, a time when populist conservatism and nationalist ideas were being revived and used by Sarkozy’s government (led by Fillon). That year specifically there were a series of measures and recommendations to prevent immigrants from staying in France at all costs. Immigrants were showed as unworthy of being able to choose where they want to live.
At the same time in Morocco, racism towards sub-Saharan and Syrian people living in Morocco was starting to become commonplace. And you could even hear the most racist things from people who actually had suffered from racism in the US or Europe.
Flag imagery was almost always associated with those speeches and attitudes and was raised as a hostile symbol.
I thought that symbol needed a hug and then a proper “fuck you” for being such an asshole. People have such high regard for their flags that I thought why not subvert it. Make it ambiguous. People would take it as an insult, but then some would take it as love address — in the same way Black Flag’s “White Minority” is considered an anthem by racists and a very anti-racist song by anti-racists.
Flagback is the project of “imagining what’s behind the flag”. The project as being visible on the Internet is the first batch and you could think of it as a sort of flag backroom.
How does Flagback work (i.e. is the GIF itself the work and sites supplementary or do they work as a series)?
Flagback is a project with no specific format. The first batch of flagbacks is the series of gifs: there is the website where you could see the gifs with a minimalist flag, but then there is the 3d version showing the flags in a circle as you would see them in a congress of sorts…There is also the wearable silk scarves version and there is also the physical art space flag version (which is sadly not available at the moment).
Who are your favorite artists right now?
I think music/video duo The Blaze because of the interesting images in their “Virile” and “Territory” videos. Barry Jenkins with his beautiful movie Moonlight showing complexity beyond stereotypes. Roberto Frassone and his short written description of art pieces on twitter (just in case art disappeared from the world). Olga Mesa + Francisco Ruiz de Infante’s multi-layer/media/space mega piece Carmen/Shakespeare (2013 - ongoing). Salim Bayri [salimbayri.com] with his fun things around migration, technology, low brow and highbrow art (he just made a videogame where you have to collect papers in order to stay in Europe to continue collect papers to stay in Europe). Alan Warburton’s Sprites exploring the love triangle 3d/person/computer. Artists from my collective PEZCORP who explore storytelling, emotions against and through technology. Dylan Abel’s “4 hour commute” and “Names” which is one of the best examples of contemporary poetry.
interview PERWANA NAZIF