As one of today's most important conceptual Arab artists, Moroccan native Mounir Fatmi critiques the value systems, ideologies and technologies that shape and control our contemporary existence utilising a vast array of implicit and symbolic signature materials. As such he uses his creative expression to push viewers to question notions of politics, regimes and pushes boundaries to free people of preconceptions of what is reality and what is fiction. In doing so, he instils an underlying sense of humour into his works that is poetic - he plays on notions of fear, doubt, death and violence in a form that is both seductive and aesthetically pleasing.
In Kissing Circles, Fatmi chooses to recreate Frederick Soddy's poem The Kissing Precise in a manner that is relevant of his artistic practice. Using antenna cables to create an intricate and intertwining composition of hypnotising circles, just as the poem intends, Fatmi's work uses the circles to geometrically and spiritually portray a shifting illusion in space and time. The simple yet complex and intricate work offers a sense of displacement in a kinetic misconception, but manages in some obscure way to represent the interlocked circles as kisses.
By choosing to depict his geometrical composition in a purist white on a white background, Fatmi manages to impart a sense of serenity that is relevant to his as well as the poem's philosophical intention. Kissing Circles's colour palette gives the viewer the aesthetic freedom to absorb the intricacy of the underlying intention. Calm, yet complex, what results is a schism between a mind at rest and a mind at work. In its duality, Kissing Circles underlyingly mirrors the complexity and dichotomy of the Arab world making it extremely relevant within the social and political discourse of today.
The Kissing Precise
For pairs of lips to kiss maybe
Involves no trigonometry.
'Tis not so when four circles kiss
Each one the other three.
To bring this off the four must be
As three in one or one in three.
If one in three, beyond a doubt
Each gets three kisses from without.
If three in one, then is that one
Thrice kissed internally.
Four circles to the kissing come.
The smaller are the benter.
The bend is just the inverse of
The distance from the center.
Though their intrigue left Euclid dumb
There's now no need for rule of thumb.
Since zero bend's a dead straight line
And concave bends have minus sign,
The sum of the squares of all four bends
Is half the square of their sum.
To spy out spherical affairs
An oscular surveyor
Might find the task laborious,
The sphere is much the gayer,
And now besides the pair of pairs
A fifth sphere in the kissing shares.
Yet, signs and zero as before,
For each to kiss the other four
The square of the sum of all five bends
Is thrice the sum of their squares.
(Frederick Soddy, 20 June 1936).