Mounir Fatmi | Morocco

Modern Times: a History of the Machine, 2010

15 minutes

Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Hussenot, Paris

Mounir Fatmi’s version of Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times is a video work recreating an old story with a new world. The cinematic story Chaplin directed in 1936 focuses on an employee who finds himself surprised and embarrassed in front of the assembly line and the industrial revolution of the World War I era, an invention which helped facilitate the manufacturing of products sent to the front, and quickly turned into a tool in the service of capitalism.

The link Fatmi makes between the wheels of the assembly line in Chaplin’s film and the wheels of an assembly line decorated with arabesques and Eastern calligraphy of contemporary times originates in the idea of the world in these two separate times.

According to Fatmi, his time machine moves the wheels of fortune of the Arab states, allowing them to grow new cities in the desert, in front of humanity’s astonished eyes.