What is your background? When did photography enter your life?
My background is video and photographic installation. I have used photography from the beginning of my art studies and it developed in conjunction with moving image.
Your work often addresses perceptions of self and place, particularly those moments in between coming and going. Would you talk a little about how your personal and family experiences as an immigrant have informed your work?
I used my parent’s immigration to Paris from Algeria in the early ’60s as a starting point to all my work. Then came my own ‘displacement’ from Paris to London in 1986. These experiences: departure/arrival, coming/going were used to create work as they are obviously linked to the idea of mobility. In a now globalized world, mobility is part of people lives so my interest in mobility is very relevant to current touristic, social and political currents.
What are your thoughts on all of the tension surrounding immigration in the U.S?
This is interesting as in a time where mobility has become acceptable be it for tourism or business, immigration creates fear… Immigration means a stay of communities often from different culturally and religiously countries. Their residence is the cause of the problem and how this might affect the ‘receiving’ country. But this fear can be seen also in many European countries.
Some of what's been written about you mentions a shift in your work away from autobiographical themes to more universal ones. Do you think that's true? And is there something to be said for the universality of individual experiences as expressed through your works?
It has been said that my recent works have moved from the autobiographical and I understand why. These works explore landscapes and are more filmic and poetical, creating a subtlety to the ‘political and social’ issues of the earlier works. However, I maintain that these works still start from the autobiographical. The landscape/seascape of Algeria (my parents home/land) has become a metaphor for my parents and my own experience.
There is a varied understanding of my work since I have moved away visually from the specificities of Algeria. I am interested in many forms of mobilities so to universalize my family experience is important to reach a broader reading of the work.
How and when did aural experience of your work come to play such an important role?
When I became a mother in London!
At that time, I was wary of the different languages and cultures within one family: Algerian, French and English. I wondered how to pass my knowledge of Algerian and French culture to my children. The Algerian language and tradition had been passed on to me by my mother, and to her by her mother…
Oral history has always had a strong place in my life as my grand mother and my mother used to tell me stories. The generation of Algerians like my parents who lived in colonial Algeria did not go to school. They can’t read or write hence why they developed this strong sense of telling and listening to stories as a way to engrave memory and history.
I guess I wanted to write visually their stories in order to pass it on to other generations…
What can people look forward to hearing you discuss at ART PAPERS Live! , which also serves as the closing for the monthly citywide event Atlanta Celebrates photography?
I will mainly discuss my work in relation to memory and the archive. As an artist who uses photography I see myself as a memory keeper or I should say an image keeper.
I hope to discuss photography and archiving as a mean to record and witness important events. But also I am interested in how the relationship to photography and archiving has changed especially in an era where image making is becoming increasingly easy due to digital technology.
Atlanta Celebrates Photography Closing Party/ART PAPERS Live! featuring Zineb Sedira. Free. 5:30-9 p.m. Artist talk: 7 p.m. Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Auditorium, 1st Floor, 350 Spelman Lane, Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Academic Center. artpapers.org. acp.org.
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