“Chatla” is the name of a performance that took place during the opening of Younes Rahmoun’s solo exhibition, Onze, in Ceuta. During this performance, the artist planted a small tree in a pile of earth situated between two doors in a hallway in the exhibition space. It remained there as an installation.
Younes Rahmoun chose to plant this tree in an intermediary place as a metaphor of a neutral space belonging to neither Spain nor Morocco. Ceuta, the exhibition’s host city, is a Spanish enclave on Morocco’s Mediterranean coast. It borders the Moroccan city Tetouan (where the artist is from), only a few kilometers away but separated by an imposing border. Younes Rahmoun explains: “There are a lot of conflicts in Ceuta, it is a city that is at once Moroccan and Spanish and thus is neither really Moroccan nor really Spanish. I wanted to evoke this ambivalence without attaching myself too much to real and ephemeral events while also speaking about the notion of the foreigner, of the other. For me, the notion of the other does not exist. Of course there is a notion of community but not of separation. We are all human beings. The tree that I planted thus represents Ceuta and Tetouan, it is a place that isn’t really defined, it is a kind of no place, a neutral space belonging to neither of the two countries. This tree has a specific place, it symbolizes rest, peace; it is a tree under which we can speak to one another. What’s more, this tree has a history. It comes from a region in Morocco where a saint lived, Moulay Abdessalam Ben Mchich. A Spanish biologist who traveled to this region brought back a seed that he then planted in Ceuta. This species of tree thus worked perfectly to illustrate my idea, because its meaning is specific to Tetouan as well as to Ceuta.”