In 2022, Hot Wheels invited Salim Bayri to Athens for a fixed time frame of two months, opening up the gallery for an undetermined format of exchange, production, and presentation.
During this time, Salim explored Azar: a live video chat app that connects you randomly with others around the world, with the questionable vision of A Hyperconnected Humanity Free From Loneliness. After chatting with hundreds of strangers and experiencing a space of idleness, humour, violence, boredom, confession, and intimacy, Salim decided to invite someone he met on Azar to join him in Athens, testing the potential for a truly random, chance encounter. Following several failed attempts, Azar connected Salim to Zakarya, who agreed to the invitation.
Salim and Zakarya spent a weekend together as tourists would do, walking up to the Acropolis, visiting museums, relaxing in a hammam, and partying. During their activities, they would move between purposefully and spontaneously addressing the questions that came from their familiarity with the app, revolving around determinism, social expectations, kinship, fear, and chance. Traces of these exchanges exist elsewhere.
Irrespective of their predetermined positions as hosts, guests, and authors, Salim and Zakarya shared an intimate, fleeting interaction free from any material expectations or active roles.
The gallery remained closed to the public for the duration of the residency and no exhibition was shown.
Salim Bayri (b. 1992, Casablanca, Morocco) lives in Amsterdam, works as a visual artist and recently started teaching. Sometimes bored because of low cultural activity, he uses Azar to see what happens.
Zakarya Nouaim (b. 1993, Agadir, Morocco) lives in Brussels, working in finance as an accountant. He is a skater and instructor at Byrrrh and Skate skatepark. Bored at home and unable to practice, he started using Azar after a knee injury in winter 2021.
Realising that there is a strong kinship between Salim and Zakarya – who share similarities in upbringing, culinary taste, family memories, and habits – the promise of randomness that Azar capitalises on started to fall apart.
Text by Hugo Wheeler, Juilia Gardener and Salim Bayri. Originally published here.