Zineb Sedira, special mention of the jury for the French pavilion of the Venice Biennale

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From this Saturday, April 23, the Venice Art Biennale kicks off its 59th edition, postponed for a year due to the pandemic. Besides the main exhibition “The milk of dreams” presented at the Arsenale and at the central pavilion of the Giardini, the exhibitions presented in the national pavilions are, as usual, among the most anticipated events. Focus on the artist Zineb Sedira, whose exhibition at the French pavilion celebrates the cinematographic avant-garde of the 60s and 70s between Venice, Algiers and Paris through a film, a performance, miniature sets and installations recreating a studio movies. A real mise en abyme as much as a sincere tribute to the emancipatory power of cinema.

  • Zineb Zedira, Dreams have no title, 2022.

    Zineb Zedira, Dreams have no title, 2022.

  • Zineb Zedira, Dreams have no title, 2022.

    Zineb Zedira, Dreams have no title, 2022.
    Zineb Zedira, Dreams have no title, 2022.

© Thierry Bal and © Zineb Sedira


Internationally renowned, Zineb Sedira is the fourth woman and the first French artist from immigrant backgrounds to represent France at the 59th Venice Biennale. Born in 1963 in France, she grew up with her Algerian parents in Gennevilliers near Paris. She then moved to London in 1986, where she now lives. France, Algeria, United Kingdom: three countries separated by the sea but aligned on the same geographical axis. Together, they form a plural identity from which stems the polyphonic, sensitive and committed work of the artist. Documentary fiction has fused with poetic lyricism in her aesthetic since her beginnings in the 1990s. The training she received at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and the Slade School of Fine Art in London was instrumental in his reflection and his artistic approach. Video eventually became his medium of choice. Alongside her studies in cinema, she discovered postcolonial studies, a booming field of research in the United Kingdom at the time. This sensitized her to her own Africanness and her sense of belonging to both a continent and a country.

His parents left Algeria to settle in France a year before he was born, after Independence. The relationship with his country of origin is the result of a distant process, maintained by family feelings and the memory of his childhood trips to Algeria. Since then, Zineb Sedira has sought to reclaim her family heritage and reconnect to a space she knows little about because she has never lived there. Algeria therefore presents itself as the common thread of his work, as a fertile source of inspiration and an object of perpetual reflection that the artist explores in a variety of approaches and art forms, such as videos, photographs, films, installations, and more recently, objects and sculptures. Exploring the paradoxes and intersections of her identity as a Franco-Algerian artist based in London, Zineb Sedira draws the material for her first videos from her family story and her personal journey. She began by directing herself, then included members of her immediate family, such as her mother, father or daughter, before adding outside protagonists. This collaborative principle of dialogue and sharing at the heart of its creative process is constantly evolving. It finds its privileged expression in the Aria Foundation, a residency program that highlights exchanges between Algeria and the rest of the world, designed by exhibition curator Yasmina Reggad in Algiers in 2012.

Zineb Zedira, Dreams have no title, 2022. © Thierry Bal and © Zineb Sedira
Zineb Zedira, Dreams have no title, 2022. © Thierry Bal and © Zineb Sedira

Zineb Zedira, Dreams have no title, 2022. © Thierry Bal and © Zineb Sedira

Between the years 2004 and 2005, after a ten-year absence caused by the “black decade”, Zineb Sedira embarked on a trip to Algeria which would mark an important stage in his artistic development. Traveling the country to meet local people and enjoying the landscapes, she discovers Algerian architecture, music, literature, cinema and develops a new approach to her art, a universal dimension, freed from the family narrative. For the first time, she captures live images that are more complex and less sober than before. A long work of research, immersion in the archives and collection of documents, such as texts, testimonies, photographs or objects, is at the heart of Zineb Sedira’s new modus operandi. Interpreting the vestiges of the past in the present, preserving the collective memory for future generations, bringing to life events that we have not experienced, unearthing the unsaid, the gray areas, historical amnesias… that is the challenge. for this modern storyteller.

Zineb Zedira, Dreams have no title, 2022. © Thierry Bal and © Zineb Sedira
Zineb Zedira, Dreams have no title, 2022. © Thierry Bal and © Zineb Sedira

Zineb Zedira, Dreams have no title, 2022. © Thierry Bal and © Zineb Sedira

Although the intimate always permeates his stories, the artist widens his field of investigation to Algerian political, cultural and social history, from recent events to colonial heritage, migrations and socio-political changes. She has a keen interest in the 1960s, a well-known decade of African liberation. movements and creative thrills that constitute the golden age of militancy, especially cinematographic. With her new favorite medium, Zineb Sedira is betting on otherness, solidarity and hospitality, all dominant values ​​that run through her project for the French pavilion. The video grew on her over time. As a child, his father took him to the cinema in Gennevilliers to see his first peplums and spaghetti westerns, hence his lasting attraction to the seventh art. In Dreams have no title (2022), Zineb Sedira highlights the links that unite the history of three major avant-garde cinematographic centers of the 1960s and 1970s – Venice, Algiers and Paris – where many successful co-productions were born. movements and creative thrills that constitute the golden age of militancy, especially cinematographic. With her new favorite medium, Zineb Sedira is betting on otherness, solidarity and hospitality, all dominant values ​​that run through her project for the French pavilion. The video grew on her over time. As a child, his father took him to the cinema in Gennevilliers to see his first peplums and spaghetti westerns, hence his lasting attraction to the seventh art. In Dreams have no title (2022), Zineb Sedira highlights the links that unite the history of three major avant-garde cinematographic centers of the 1960s and 1970s – Venice, Algiers and Paris – where many successful co-productions were born.

Zineb Zedira, “Dreams have no title”, from April 23 to November 27 at the French pavilion of the Venice Biennale.

Zineb Zedira, Dreams have no title, 2022. © Thierry Bal and © Zineb Sedira
Zineb Zedira, Dreams have no title, 2022. © Thierry Bal and © Zineb Sedira

Zineb Zedira, Dreams have no title, 2022. © Thierry Bal and © Zineb Sedira

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