From Paris to Philly! The Barnes Foundation has a new exhibition featuring a French artist who spotlights a community of African American horse riders in North Philadelphia.
It's called Urban Riders, and it's already drawn acclaim in Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. Its first U.S. showing is in the city that inspired their creation.
Mohamed Bourouissa is the artist, a French-Algerian internationally known for his works showcasing marginalized inner-city communities.
"He has always been fascinated by the social, racial issues that are so strong in the United States," explains Sylvie Patry, Chief Curator of The Barnes Foundation.
For this project, she says he spent almost a year in the city's Strawberry Mansion section working with the nearly century-old Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club, and creating a body of roughly 85 works.
"We have sculptures, drawings, photos," Patry says.
Patry says the largest, by far, is a monumental mural relief made of French car parts, some printed with photos of Philadelphia: "The artist wanted us to have a kind of urban experience, you know, when you walk in the city and you see this walls and some walls are painted etcetera."
And the artist organized a horse riding competition that became the basis for a short film called Horse Day and is also part of the exhibition.
"It's a very complex and a very rich film," says Patry. "It's two different videos playing at the same time and they are projected on two different walls."
Both the horses and the riders are dressed in extravagant costumes designed by local artists. "Artificial flowers and you have a costume made with ribbons; you have a costume made with CDs," says Patry, who adds that Bourouissa, a Muslim immigrant living on the outskirts of Paris, focuses his work on stereotypes surrounding race and economic class.
This is his first project in the US.
"I hope that maybe it helps people to have a better knowledge and to be more open," says Patry.
Urban Riders is on display at the Barnes Foundation thru October 2. For tickets, visit The Arts in Philly website.