Working with film, video, installation, photography, and prints, Khalili's practice articulates language, subjectivity, orality, and geographical explorations. She often retools the aesthetic strategies of documentary cinema to focus on historical speculation and the representation of subjects rendered invisible by the nation-state. Each of her projects can be seen as a platform offered to members of political minority to elaborate, narrate, and share strategies and discourses of resistance.
Her artwork focuses on personal storytelling that touches harsh politics, developing critical and ethical approaches to question citizenship, community and political agency. She meets her targeted art subjects along her journey across the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, in sites of transit and accordingly conducts a series of meetings and preliminary conversations as she films them and collects her necessary data.
By including the subjects in her artwork it gives a more sensitive human touch, portraying real life stories and hardships, where then audiences can relate to and stand in solidarity, making the experience more intimate and personal.
In most of her work, the subjects aren’t necessarily seen but they aren’t voiceless either; they are articulated and decisively heard, speaking in their own tongue language, adding therefore that human touch without evading their privacy and discomfort.
Her work doesn’t rely on the vulgar, bloody representation of suffering bodies, charged images, and ambient montages to create an affect, but rather on specific filming techniques and fixed frames in addition to the frame of spoken language itself.
Accordingly, with precision and subtlety, her projects challenge hegemonic narratives about migration and statelessness, as well as the violence they engender and normalize, while also pressing contemporary documentary practice forward, both ethically and aesthetically.
“Khalili’s documentary practice, in its incisive and exacting seriousness, can seem at once oddly traditional and, because of this, unique amid the aesthetically experimental and sometimes emotionally manipulative work that can befall the politically motivated documentary impulse.”
Khalili's work has been internationally exhibited such as at "The Mapping Journey Project" solo show at MoMA, New York (2016);“Foreign Office”, solo show at Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2015); “Garden Conversation”, solo show at MACBA, Barcelona (2015); "Here & Elsewhere", New Museum, New York (2014); "The Opposite of the Voice-Over", solo show at Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, Toronto (2013); "The Encyclopedic Palace", 55th Venice Biennale (2013); "Living Labour", solo show at PAMM, Miami (2013); "La Triennale", Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012); 18th Biennale of Sydney (2012); and 10th Sharjah Biennial (2011); among others.
She was the recipient of " Radcliffe Institute Fellowship", Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University (2017-2018); "Abraaj Group Art Prize”, (2014)"; "Sam Art Prize 2013-2015", Sam Art Projects, Paris; "DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program" (2012); "Vera List Center for Arts and Politics Fellowship" (The New School, New York, 2011-2013); "Villa Médicis Hors-les Murs" (2010); "Videobrasil Residency Award" (2009); "Image-Mouvement Grant" (French National Centre for the Arts, 2008); "Louis Lumière Documentary Award" (Film Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, France, 2005).2017: The Tempest Society. Video Installation. Single channel
2015: Foreign Office. A mixed media project composed of a digital film, a series of photographs, and a silkscreen print
2014: Garden Conversation. Digital film. 18minutes
2012-2013: The Speeches Series. 3 digital films
2012: The Seaman. Digital film
2012: The Wet Feet Series. Series of photographs
2011: The Constellations Series. Series of 8 silkscreen prints
2008-2011: The Mapping Journey Project. Video installation. 8 single channels
2015: Bouchra KHALILI - Foreign Office. Monograph Book. Sam Art Projects Collection, 12
2014: Here & Elsewhere. Edited by Massimiliano Gioni, Gary Carrion-Murayari, and Natalie Bell, with Negar Azimi and Kaelen Wilson-Goldie. New Museum, New York
2014: Freedom, KunstPalais Edition, Erlangen, Germany
2013: The Encyclopedic Palace: Guide Book, 55th Venice Biennale. Venice Biennale Foundation
2013: The Encyclopedic Palace: Catalogue, 55th Venice Biennale. Venice Biennale Foundation
2013: 5th Moscow Biennale, Catherine de Zegher, Moscow Biennale Foundation
2013: Mirages d’Orient, Grenades et Figues de Barbarie, Ed. Actes Sud Beaux-Arts
2012: Intense Proximity, the guidebook. Centre national des arts plastiques – Artlys
2012: Intense Proximity, the anthology. Centre national des arts plastiques – Artlys
2011: Mutations, perspectives on photography. Steidl/Paris Photo, 2011
2011: Plot for a Biennial. Sharjah Art Foundation
2010: Bouchra Khalili - Story Mapping. Monograph Book. Le Bureau des Compétences et Désirs/Presses du Réel