PHILADELPHIA — Throughout his career, Mohamed Bourouissa has critiqued the political, economic, and social marginalization of various communities. Born in Algeria and living in France, the multidisciplinary artist first gained acclaim through his photographs of residents of the Paris banlieues. Urban Riders, his current exhibition at the Barnes Foundation, centers on his time with the Fletcher Street Urban Riders Club in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood of North Philadelphia. The show establishes Bourouissa’s commitment to action that is guided by social justice ideals as well as to a rigorous formal discipline.
The Fletcher Street Urban Riders Club aims to preserve Fletcher Street’s historical horse culture by teaching boys and young men from the area how to ride. Much of Strawberry Mansion is plagued by unemployment and crime, and the club provides local youth with a safe outlet. After discovering Fletcher Street through the work of American artist Martha Camarillo, Bourouissa traveled to Philadelphia in 2014 and spent eight months with the group, documenting their activities through photography, video, and drawings.