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GREATEST / Sara Sadik

The French artist discusses dystopian resistances, male expressions of love and Grand Theft Auto as an artistic medium at Manifesto 2022.

INTERVIEWER: Cyrus Goberville INTRO: Brock Cardiner PHOTOGRAPHER: Thibaut Grevet LOCATION: Espace Niemeyer
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Sara Sadik (French, b. 1994) is an artist based in Marseille, whose practice brings together video, performance, installation and photography. Her work takes inspiration from what she terms beurcore: the youth culture developed by working-class members of the Maghrebi diaspora, with references spanning music, language, fashion, social networks and science fiction.

At Manifesto, a four-day festival presented by GOAT and Kaleidoscope Magazine at Espace Niemeyer during Paris Fashion Week SS23, Sadik presents her latest film, Ultimate Vatos: Force & Honneur (Vol.1). The work explores Ultimate Vatos, an uprising organization led by a group of men targeted as potential threats in a territory that does not want them and excludes them from the legitimate body of the nation. In order to integrate this organization, a test has been put in place to determine the physical and mental capacities of the candidates.

Sadik sits down with Cyrus Goberville, Head of Cultural Programs at the Pinault Collection’s Bourse du Commerce museum, to discuss dystopian resistances, male expressions of love and Grand Theft Auto as an artistic medium.

Tell me about yourself and what you’re presenting here at Manifesto.

I'm 27 years old. I live in Marseille, and I'm a video and performance artist. I'm presenting my latest film, Ultimate Vatos: Force & Honneur (Vol.1). It’s about a new exam that men have to pass in order to join an uprising organization. It’s about isolation and loneliness. They’re put on this island, and they have three exams to pass. The most difficult thing isn't the exam though, it’s that they are alone. They are tormenting themselves with their own thoughts.

This is something that appears often in your work: the condition of men. There is a form of romanticism. They're adapting all the time in response to love, success…

The main subject that I work on is love. I worked on love for two years over four projects. It was a cycle and, at the beginning, it was the easiest subject to tackle when talking about men. It was also the most urgent for me because we never talk about love related to men—how they love, how they express themselves. All my films are created as an evolution. In each film, they start from a period of adapting to ultimately having a final form of self-confidence.

In the film, there’s a double relationship: The man is in love with this woman, but he loves his friend, too. At some point he needs to choose if he goes with his friend or with his love.

Love is the main subject, but it's love for his girlfriend, love for his friends and love for himself. So there’s the topic of self-confidence and he’s also torn between how to manage his love; how much love he gives to who and how we can manage all of these.

The concept of beurcore appears often in your work. Can you explain to me what this idea is?

When I was in school, I didn't have any artists I could relate to and every time I was trying to describe my work, I was like, “I'm focusing on working-class characters from the Maghrebian diaspora,” so I invented beurcore to describe my work more easily.

Are there any artists you feel you have a connection with?

Meriem Bennani. To me, she’s the greatest artist of all time. I was a huge fan of her work, and then we met and now we are friends.

How did you get into Grand Theft Auto, the video game you’ve been using to create some of your video work? I've been playing this game all my life.

Yeah, me too, with my little brother. At the beginning I was supposed to do a CGI film, but it was too expensive to do it all in CGI. Then, I found out about fans reproducing French rap music videos in GTA. I was like, “Oh, this is a phenomenon and I like to work on phenomena,” so I decided to make a film with the same method.

How did you do it?

I watched so many hours of gameplay—like hours, hours and hours on YouTube—to take inspiration for the angle, the point of view. There are only around three scenes that are CGI, which are more cinematic.

The soundtrack is so well done, so melodramatic. What is your relationship to music?

I only listen to French rap music; this is my main inspiration. I like that there are so many different styles; it’s so diverse. There’s the melodramatic vibe, as you said, and then there’s cloud rap, which is more dark, and everything in between.

What projects do you have coming up?

For the Lyon Biennale, which opens in September, I will present volume two of Ultimate Vatos. It’s a coup d’etat organized by all the winners of the exam featured in Volume One, and it takes the form of a TV show where the winners take over a national channel for 24 hours. A dystopia of resistance.