Zahna Siham Benamor, Apolonia Sokol: Exhibition
8 Mar – 4 May 2024

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The first collaborative exhibition by poet and performer Zahna Siham Benamor and painter Apolonia Sokol builds on their long friendship, or feminist sorority. The show raises shared questions of exiled identities—from the rootless flower, the so-called False Rose of Jericho, to cultural figures such as the nomad and the wandering Jew.

In a new series of large-scale oil paintings, Apolonia Sokol displaces historical, patriarchal portraiture to enthrone the narratives of the two artists’ friends and family, alongside themselves. First up, Zahna Siham Benamor wears traditional Berber wedding clothes while posing as an archer—a gesture taken from an Algerian dance of resistance. As with all of Sokol’s portraits, the painting is drafted in close collaboration with the subject. Here Benamor takes aim at the viewer, as if she, a Danish author with roots in Algeria, needs to defend herself against potential attacks, even in her private apartment in Copenhagen.

The exhibition’s dark and cavernous main space emits Benamor’s new, raw and punkish soundscape collaging raï rhythms, strings, ambient compositions, rap, and poetic calls, summoning visitors. The audience is invited to sit on the floor, next to the record player as well as a real-life Jericho Rose and, on selected days, see the poet herself performing live (see O’s website for dates). A core inspiration for Benamor’s music is raï, a popular type of Algerian underground music, which has often excluded its stars, mostly socially outcast women, from appearing on their own record covers; here, a drawing of a 1990s LP cover by raï star Cheba Zohra substitutes her face with Pamela Anderson’s, raising the question of who owns the (female) image.

The exhibition entails a series of public, collective writing workshops, alongside live performances, in the central space.

Zahna Siham Benamor (b. 1988, DK) is a poet and performance artist of Algerian and French descent. She has performed at Art Hub Copenhagen (2024), Monnaie de Paris (2023), and ARKEN, Ishøj (2023). In relation to the exhibition, Benamor releases the EP, Jeg kommer fra ørkenen (2024).

Apolonia Sokol (b. 1988, FR) is a Paris-based artist of Polish and French origin, raised partially in Copenhagen. Sokol has exhibited at institutions including ARKEN, Ishøj (2023), MO.CO Panacée, Montpellier (2023), and Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas (2022). Further, she is the main subject of Lea Glob’s documentary Apolonia, Apolonia (2023) which revolves around Sokol’s life and practice.

Zahna Siham Benamor and Apolonia Sokol, O—Overgaden, 2024. Photo by artist Noah Umur Kanber

The exhibition is supported by