For a Brief Moment the World Was on Fire- Courtesy of Zineb Sedira
In a nod to the world’s hottest storytelling platform – Pecha Kucha or “show and tell” – Selections has asked a
number of artists and designers to talk about a specific project through imagery and an economy of words. The
result is a simple yet engaging and visually captivating tale that sheds light upon the work whilst providing
insights into the life and personal thoughts of each featured artist and designer. Passion and knowledge all
wrapped into one.
Photo by Sueraya Shaheen
Photo by Sueraya Shaheen

Zineb Sedira works between London, Paris and Algiers. She exhibited in several selected solo shows including the Photographer’s Gallery (United Kingdom); Pori Museum (Finland); Kunsthalle Nikolaj (Denmark); Palais de Tokyo (France); Musée d’Art Contemporain MAC (France); Blaffer Art Museum, (United States); Prefix and Charles H. Scott Gallery (Canada); Art on the Underground, (London); Beirut Art Centre, (Lebanon); Sharjah Art Foundation (UAE); Jeu de Paume (France); and IVAM (Spain). She also showed her work in group shows at Tate Britain and Tate Modern (United Kingdom); Centre Pompidou (France); Mori Museum (Japan); Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art (United Kingdom); Musée d’Art Moderne d’Alger (Algeria); Brooklyn Museum (United States); Gwangju Museum of Art (South Korea); MMK (Germany); Power Plant (Canada); The Smithsonian, Guggenheim and Studio museums (United States); Museum Colecao Berardo, (Portugal); and MAC VAL (France). She also took part in the Venice Biennale; Limerick Biennial (Ireland); ICP Triennial (United States); Sharjah Biennale (UAE); Folkestone Triennial and Prospect 4 (New Orleans, United States). In 2020, she will exhibit at the Liverpool Biennale in the United Kingdom.


My project takes on archives of Algerian 1960s and ‘70s cinema and documents from the Pan African Festival as a core strategy to discuss image representation of history and collective memory of Algeria’s post-independence years, as well as global 1960 political anti-imperialist consciousness. Rabah Ameur-Zaïmache, 19mm thick coated and painted.

Continuing my exploration of themes around art (and culture) and resistance, I propose here a presentation of a project created for a touring project at Jeu de Paume (Paris), IVAM (Valencia, Spain), Gulbenkian (Lisbon) and Bildmuseet (Umea, Sweden). The work takes place in four scenes. I have been looking at the First Pan-African Festival of Algiers organised by the Algerian state in 1969. In this context a major film by William Klein was commissioned to document the various cultural events. At that time, the Algerian film industry ethos was to commission and finance militant cinema (in solidarity with colonised and decolonised states in Africa and outside) but also cultural events such as music, theatre and art. The 1969 celebration was to send a strong international message: to promote culture as a revolutionary weapon (agitprop) calling for mobilisation, agitation and critical consciousness. Culture was to produce a counter-history from the dominant Western stories. My research took me to access the post-independence film industry in the archives of the Cinémathèque of Algiers created in 1965. It is in the archive that Klein’s movie is kept, amongst many other Algerian and non-Algerian militant movies (including the Battle of Algiers by Gillo Pontecorvo.

Mise-en-Scène
By scanning, cutting, and reinterpreting Algerian post-independence found footage (16mm and 35mm), I created a new script, an archaeology that peers into the fissures, scratches, erosion of a militant cinema archive. How do we negotiate the potential and pitfalls of the archive as source material, especially when the archive is damaged or neglected and will be discarded? It’s about image representation of specific political and cultural histories as well as analogue versus digital archiving.

For a Brief Moment the World Was on Fire
These colourful collages feature periodicals, magazines, newspaper cuttings, photographs and politically inspired statements, encapsulating the energy and inspiration of the Algerian nation as the spearhead of independence movements. It exposes collective memory as a form of personal and political activism. To usurp the materials and displayed with 1960s objects (books and statuettes) from my personal collection distorts its original documentary form. My intention is to share my values by producing new forms that revive this period in our collective memory.

Way of Life
This life-size living room includes a variety of personal 1960s objects and furniture carefully collected over few decades. Re-contextualising the Pan-African festival and the artistic movements of the ‘60s and ‘70s, visitors delve into my collection of documents and books, viewing a video and listening to ‘60s militant soundtracks. I share my interest in the creativity developed by ‘60s liberation movements, when political activism was breaking from the hegemonic domination of imperialism, sexism, racism and capitalism. The work also highlights the time gap between the ‘60s and today.

We Have Come Back
The title of this collection of records is taken from the jazz performance given by Archie Shepp during the First Pan-African Festival in Algiers in 1969. It is a selection of vinyl records representing the radical militant movements for liberation from colonialism and imperialism, for civil rights and gender equality and the political engagement of musicians in the 1960s and ‘70s. The choice of music and the colour and graphic design of the record sleeves add to this work’s autobiographical dimension.


A VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE APPEARED IN PRINT IN SELECTIONS, SHOW & TELL #51 PAGES 106-109.

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