25 January 2013

Commenting on social and consumerism decay, Zineb Sedira's new short film End of Life depicts the desolation of the 'car grave yard' as used cars come to their end at a scrap heap. This short evokes a feeling of wonder at the mass waste in its images, as well as a hint of sadness for these redundant creatures - the cars come across as the characters in this film, stripped of mobility and purpose.

In her work, Sedira explores ongoing interests in mobility, language and storytelling. Using video and photography, she draws on her family experience of emigrating from Algeria to France, where she grew up, before then moving to England to pursue her artistic interest further. Her works are subtle and poetic, touching on the personal, political and historical, and gently hinting at contemporary issues of globalization. 

Mother Tongue (2002), one of Sedira's best-known pieces is a three-channel installation, depicting conversation across three generations of successive migration, with varying first languages from Arabic, to French, to English. Sedira is shown talking with her mother on one screen, with her daughter on another screen and a breakdown of verbal communication is seen on the third screen, which depicts Sedira's daughter and her mother. This work is an intimate look at the disconnection that can occur within families through geographical displacement, also exploring the meaning of home and belonging in this context. In addition the work also functions on a more global scale, perhaps representing the lack of real, human communication in an increasingly globalized world, posing the question: What does the increasing ease of global, mediated forms of communication mean for the way we approach personal communication? Do we need to change our approach?

Continuing to explore the themes of migration and travel, Sedira's work has veered away from the biographical and into the more abstract and conceptual in her work, MiddleSea. This work, displayed in 2008 at The Wapping Project, a former hydraulic power station, was a beautiful piece set on a ship travelling from Algiers to Marseilles. Described by Coline Milliard as "a visual meditation on the state of transit", this piece was a highly evocative and sensory piece, elongating a transient moment in the way that travel often does. There is a timelessness in the work that is at once both immediately recognizable, yet also somehow ethereal and transcendental.  Millard describes this evocative work further in her review for Frieze Magazine and see this review from A2BPhotography of a subsequent work on a similar theme.

Sedira is also an accomplished academic, having contributed to the issues of religious expression and representation in her article Mapping the Illusive. Given her connection to Paris and her cultural heritage, the controversy that has surrounded the French attitude towards the wearing of the Muslim veil is an issue of great complexity and significance for the artist. Sedira speaks of the veil as a concept adopted by both Eastern and Western cultures that manifests in different ways and as a sign of a larger global issue in female representation. Sedira's work has been referenced by Huda Lutfi, in the blog spot Lids, Sewn Shut

Hear Sedira talk about her views and artistic practice in interviews from artreviewTV, , tank.tv, and in an academic interview by Joseph McGonagle.

Find out more about her at her website zinebsedira.com and in a thesis exploring Sedira's work by Katherine Eve Hammond.

Sedira also participated in the FACT forum Random Acts: Artist Interventions into Broadcast in October 2012.

Click here to find out more about the 25 short films co-commissioned by FACT for Channel 4, including Dream by Hollywood star James Franco.