The Family & Emotional Connections In The Works Of Algerian Female Artist Zineb Sedira

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Algerian female artist, Zineb Sedira is a French born woman whose art mainly consists of photography, installations and video projects. Sedira got her BA at Central St. Martins and MFA at Slade, both in London, which is her current residence. Since her family had to immigrate from Algeria during the war, Sedira’s consists of the idea of moving, transported and being relocated to another place. Her work as been shown in galleries all over Europe since the late 90’s to present day. A good representation of her work is several photographs that are often shown in a series showing connections between people. Sedira often uses themes that relate to the family and emotional connections that are made by each other.

Mother Daughter and I (2003) is a series of three squared colored photographs placed on a white wall. The three photographs are placed at an equal distance from each other aligning to an imaginary grid. Placed a few inches below the colored photographs are 3 oval shaped colored photographs aligning to the same grid and continuations of the above photographs. The photographs appear that they are placed about eye level to the gallery viewer and the placement of the subject in the photograph begins about halfway down the square. The subjects in the photos are in front of a white solid background.

The oval photograph is a continuation of the above square photo. Each set of photographs contains two females of various ages with warm medium tan to olive cool skin tones. At the far left set of square and oval photographs, the images inside are of two women sitting side by side. Beginning with the woman sitting on the far most left of the first set is wearing white with a small red flowered printed pattern on the blouse. She has her hair covered in white cloth which is tucked behind her ears and she has an earring in her visible ear. She is also older than the woman sitting next to her. The woman that is sitting next to her is in the right side of the photo she is wearing a blue denim looking top and has her arm placed slightly in front of the white woman. Her hair is dark possibly black which is wavy and unruly covering most of her face.

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The two women are looking towards each other, however the woman wearing white has her face more visible to the viewer in a half profile position while the woman in blue is looking directly at the woman in white. The woman in blue is smiling at the older woman while. The oval photograph that is directly a few inches below them is showing the two women with only their hands and laps. The blue woman is holding the hands of the older woman in white with both of her hands placed around and on top of the woman in white’s hands.

Moving onto the second center image there is a young preteen girl wearing a white t-shirt with a pink pattern of flowers on the front. Sitting on the right side of the photo is the same woman in white in the white headscarf sitting to the right of her smiling at the young girl. The young girl’s face is a profile shot facing the older woman. She has dark hair and a ponytail that reaches below her shoulders. Her posture is slightly slouched however she has a smile of affection on her face while looking at the older woman. The two are not sitting shoulder to shoulder but their arms are touching. The oval photograph that is below is once again focused on their laps showing the young girl reaching out to hold the older woman’s hand, while her left hand is placed upon her lap on her leg.

The older woman in white keeps her hands on her lap allowing the right hand to be held. The very last image on the right contains the first woman in blue sitting on the left side of the photograph and the young preteen girl sitting on the right side of the photograph when facing the image. The woman in blue has her face looking down towards her lap in a solemn expression as if listening while the young girl is looking at the older woman in blue in an expression as if mid-sentence. The oval photograph below shows the young girl reaching out across with her arm that is away from the woman in blue. The woman in blue is looking down at the hands while holding the young girl’s hands in hers with both hands. Zineb Sedira’s works are described as dealing with emotions that are showing connections between family members.

According to Verhagen her work is often seen as a conversation about her background being French and of Algerian descent. Sedira’s combination of using immigration combined with being brought into a new land and dealing with different languages becomes the basis of her works. Verhagen further explains that in her video installation Silent Sight (2000) Sedira is trying to figure out what it means to be displaced, by retelling her story overlaid with the eyes in the video that are often telling of story.

Verhagen focuses primarily on her work that involves relationships and the story that Sedira is telling between them. He is saying that the vast majority of Sedira’s work is always telling a story about her background with the exception of Shipwreck: The Death of a Journey (2008). However, Gogarty focuses on these graveyards of ships to explain that she is still talking about relocation since the waters that these ships are on are trade waters. He further deduces that Sedira’s works are created in this picture by picture or as he states “frame by frame” which end up telling her story from her sole viewpoint about complicated subjects that end up making her stand out amongst other artists that are tackling the same ideas.

Sedira’s works are often retelling the story of her attitude and feelings of being the daughter of immigrant parents. She is using her feelings and responding to her emotions through these images. By using images of herself and her family members, whether in video form or still images, Sedira gets the viewer to see the connection and struggles they are facing generationally. However, though a lot of Sedira’s work is installation video art it is her photography that creates the connections that she is trying to evoke. Just as Verhagen and Gogarty write, Sedira is exploring herself and her family through the close family connections.

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