In National (Glasgow), it is the force of the symbol which instantly strikes the viewer which appears to have been assembled almost by accident , randomly, with three pieces of clothing strung up end-to-end like washing hung out to dry. The three colours act as an immediate reference to the French flag – the title, National (the Glasgow part signifying simply where it was made), leaves no doubt as to the subject. The impersonal and derisory nature of the elements used: two tops and a football shirt, suggest contempt for the possible identity referred to by the flag’s colours; the nation represented by purely market values offers an ironic and literal interpretation about diversity – under the guise of a plurality of sartorial styles. The identity linked to the flag could be itself reduced to the appearance that is nothing more than coincidental.
Saâdane Afif, by limiting to a minimum any signs of his own intervention, lets the simplicity of his forms work by enabling the unexpected and brutal outburst of a question of burning topicality. By opposing the simplistic views which have already set the rules about the question of what makes a nation – and those connected to it– nationality, rights, fear of others - he raises a conflicting view: the importance of uncovering something substantial beneath the basic symbolism. The piece thus risks reaching a conclusion whereby the elements which assure cohesion of our community behind the images are exhausted. A revolution of fear: it is not others who threaten us but a world which no longer functions except by the manipulation of forms and images up to saturation point.
Translated Theodora Taylor