London-based French born Algerian artist Zineb Sedira has been mining her relationship to memory, post-coloniality, and transnational identity in her artistic practice for over 25 years. Born in Paris in 1963 to Algerian immigrant parents and raised in what is considered the “racial other” suburbs (banlieus) of Paris, Sedira went on to graduate from Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and the Slade School of Art in London, where she was influenced by Stuart Hall, British cultural studies, and the Black Arts Movement.
Sedira’s work conveys the political through the personal, deploying multiple storytelling tactics and voices. Using photography, video, archival films, and recorded interviews, she unpacks issues such as the silenced cultural history of Algeria and her heritage inscribed within the French colonialization of Algeria, her parents’ homeland. By questioning the relation between history and aesthetics, trauma and form, Sedira has established herself as a significant voice in the global contemporary artworld. She will be the first artist of African descent to represent France at the 2022 Venice Biennale.
Voice-Over is organized in two parts. In the larger gallery, Sedira creates a new iteration of the installation Standing Here Wondering Which Way to Go based on the Pan-African Festival of 1969 and the documentary by William Klein of the same year. This four-part installation was first shown in 2019 at the Jeu de Paume in Paris and commissioned by Jeu de Paume, Paris, France; IVAM, Valencia, Spain; Gulbenkian, Lisbon, Portugal; and Bildmuseet, Umeå, Sweden.
The second gallery features two of Sedira’s seminal videos. Mother Tongue (2002) is an early foundational work that speaks directly to the practices of oral transmission and marginalized storytelling, and to the concept of memory as a way of representing diasporic identity across generations and cultures. In The End of the World (2010), the artist employs her signature voice-over technique as a radical device which disrupts the conventions of documentary. Here she elaborates both literally and symbolically on other preoccupations of her practice: the environmental costs of globalization, issues around cultural archives, and displacement.
Organized by Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and guest curated by Dr. Natasha Boas, a French American international independent curator, scholar, and critic based in San Francisco and Paris. The exhibition is supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Walter and Karla Goldschmidt Foundation, the Institut Français and the Consulate General of France in Los Angeles. Special thanks to Stinkweeds Record Store, Phoenix.