Fine Artist Karim Zeriahen’s Video Installation Survivor Uses MMA as a Metaphor for Life’s Struggles

“Not everyone has the fortune to have suffered; it gives you something more, if you turn it into good energy. If you’re a fighter,” says Paris-based artist Karim Zeriahen of his striking work, Survivor (watch the piece on Vimeo via the link). “It’s autobiographical, a journey through one’s life,” he continues, “a lesson too – if you have enough persistence, hope, and fighting skills, you can survive.”

Karim first found success outside of the art world – from the age of eight he trained as a figure skater, and progressed to win the French championship several times – “It taught me a lot of discipline,” he says. Once he left the sport, though, like many who enjoy success so young his self-command crumbled in favour of a regime devoted to hedonism. The result was a serious lung infection that knocked him into a coma. He awoke after four days surrounded by friends and family he hardly recognised. A process of reconstruction began.

“When you’re a child you think life will be like a Disney movie, quiet and peaceful,” Karim says referring to the opening scenes of Survivor shot in pastoral Switzerland, “and you soon find out it’s not like that. I thought mixed martial arts training was the best way to show a struggle, and capture the feeling of trying to find a way out of a situation… more like fighting against yourself, another you, conscious versus subconscious, than fighting someone else. The filming encouraged me to start boxing. I have been doing it for a year now, I love it, I am addicted.” He’s trained for a year now at Paris’ Le Temple de Noble Art on the rue Molière, and has recently graduated to sparring.

“I’ve learned to defend myself first and foremost. It’s not in my nature… I give without thinking of myself enough. And it’s working! Also to keep my distance, using the jab, in every relationship – work, love.”


Karim, who has produced immersive installations with supermodel Kate Moss in the past, and is currently working on a major installation on the banks of the river Seine with French actress Catherine Deneuve, believes that anyone who views Survivor will have experience of struggle. “But,” he says, “when everything is hopeless, and you keep believing and fighting, things happen.”

Survivor is available to buy via Lazarides gallery – contact details at You can view the Survivor film itself on Karim Zeriahen’s Vimeo channel – there’s a link on the Battles of London Facebook page.

Steve Beale