A collage of faces, people embracing

Born in Rabat, Morocco, in 1967, Hedi El Kholti moved to Los Angeles in 1992, working in the film industry for five years before earning a BFA degree at Art Center College of Design. In 2000 he cocurated an exhibition of the work of fan photographer Gary Lee Boas and coedited Starstruck: Photographs from a Fan, a collection of candid celebrity snapshots taken by Boas during the 1960s and 1970s. The book dovetailed with El Kholti’s personal interest in pop and celebrity culture. Over the years he developed an intimate collage practice that materialized in a series of books and smaller fanzines. Sometimes glossy and sometimes Xeroxed but always nonhierarchical, they quote visually from various cultural eras, pulling from movies, art publications, gay magazines, and book covers. The collages may seem opaque—time capsule–like conflations of pop-cultural moments and figures sometimes organized in taxonomies and other times an unfettered stream of consciousness—but they are in reality deeply personal, even autobiographical. Through his colorful and eclectic compositions, El Kholti drafts arguments about insecurities regarding queerness, fear of illness and virality, and feelings of alienation from his provenance. Since 2004 he has been a coeditor at Semiotext(e) (alongside Chris Kraus and Sylvère Lotringer), where he created the publication Animal Shelter, an occasional journal of art, sex, and literature. His work was exhibited at the Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, and Reena Spaulings Fine Art, Los Angeles (both 2019). Hesse Press published A Place in the Sun, a monograph of his writings and collages, in 2017.