It is not uncommon for people to feel like licking the pieces, Sarah Benslimane told me while scrolling through pictures of her works in progress for this exhibition, mainly large-scale hanging assemblages made with found objects and crafting and industrial materials.

She also emphasized the “0-1 logic” she espouses as a digital native. This apparent contradiction between “licking” and “typing” seems to be at the heart of her work. Bluntly called: New Works, 2023, the group of works on view provide a witty, even flamboyant riposte to the current moment, when we are more than used to hearing someone fretting about when automation and algorithms will leave us unemployed or why digital devices have made us unable to focus and relate to each other.

In opposition (or as a reaction) to the overwhelming flood of text, audio, and video that fills our feeds 24/7, there is growing praise for the 'manual' and crafted activities - a romanticized use of hands as a form of resistance to the numbing effects of techno-capitalism. I remain wary of this binary, and Sarah’s work is a fine example of how the human hand and the digital world are more connected than one might think. Her work skirts the edge between flatness and dimensionality by upending both. The precision of her work’s forms, the mixed textures of their surfaces, and then, at the same time, the industrial and crafty looks they convey are what make her objects so mundanely exotic. For that reason, one could say that the nonchalance of her work is hard-earned. The playful presence of her pieces arises from the seriousness with which Benslimane approaches a dense network of internal references and potential materials, constantly surfing a single and indistinguishable flow of data and textures.

As I said before, for Benslimane, there is no opposition between hardware and handwork. There is a charming, lighthearted inventiveness to these works in execution and intent. Even though she hardly titles her work, one “named” piece caught my attention: Wedding Vibes. The free association of materials that convey a particular kitschy atmosphere to that cut-out wood shape sloppily covered with shiny white lacquer, perhaps, is what she calls “a vibe.” There is inexplicable poignancy in the drips of that white material sprinkled with beads, little plastic leaves, and eyes. Something between the leftovers of a crusty sugary cake and the still-unwiped floors of a cheeky ballroom when the sun rises.

Benslimanes’ work mainly involves gathering everyday objects, detached from their conventional contexts that she reconfigures according to a pre-established logic, even if it remains somewhat oblique. Every element in her eerie compositions has been carefully picked and reintroduced into a new grammar or, perhaps more accurately, new programming. Nails, beads, tiles, and whatever cheap shiny stuff she finds in Bric-à-Brac and hardware shops are eligible as raw matter. What seems to interest her the most is precisely this clash of textures; this explains the seductive presence of her works – I want to touch it or lick it.

Sarah Benslimane is an artist attuned to the seduction of and, at the same time, aware of the growing impermeability of surfaces. The precision of her finishes and the range of processes she uses to achieve them might seem antagonists to their final form. In her first show in a commercial gallery, Sarah Beslimane straightforwardly reveals the haptic allure of hanging assemblages. She points out the absurdity of the excesses of the material world while, at the same time, finding some coziness and shelter in easily-recognizable but hardly categorizable visual matrixes. Is this an artwork or a piece of décor from a child party left aside? Does it still matter?

The senses know better what the mind fails to categorize through language. In this way, my effort to wrap up Benslimane’s multilayered work in words seems somewhat inglorious when the vibes they emanate are ever-present and delightful.

(Fernanda Brenner, 2023)