Zineb Sedira, Sunken Stories, 2018. Wooden boats, resin, stainless steel and steel reinforcement bars, dimensions variable. Commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation. Detail view: SAF Art Spaces, Sharjah, 2018


16 March–16 June 2018
Galleries 1, 2 and 5, Al Mureijah Square, Sharjah

Sharjah Art Foundation presents a major survey exhibition of artist Zineb Sedira’s work. Spanning two decades of her practice, Zineb Sedira: Air Affairs and Maritime NonSense features both well-known and rarely seen works, as well as two new works commissioned especially for this exhibition.

For over 17 years, Sedira has explored notions of family, tradition, oral history, migration and the intergenerational transmission of knowledge. Although these concerns have recently become the focus of wider public attention, the artist has long underscored the enduring existence of these issues in her work. With works ranging from videos to photography, sculpture and installations, Sedira often explores the issues of gender, language, national identity and migration in an autobiographical context. Her reflective, carefully crafted presentations foster dialogue around the themes of her work.

‘We have followed Zineb’s work since her first presentation nearly 11 years ago as part of Sharjah Biennial 6 in 2003, then later in the 2007 Sharjah Biennial 8,’ said Hoor Al Qasimi. ‘With this exhibition we are able to explore, in depth, the issues of migration, identity and borders that not only continue to inform her work but also reflect the inescapable realities of life for so many people around the world today.’

Curated by Sharjah Art Foundation Director Hoor Al Qasimi, Zineb Sedira: Air Affairs and Maritime NonSense will feature a number of Sedira’s well-known works alongside new works.

Mother Tongue (2002) portrays the struggle to find a common language in which to share knowledge and experience across time and space. Saphir (2006) explores the notion of return, and the multichannel video Image Keepers (2010) revolves around Sedira’s conversations with the widow of a prominent photographer who devoted himself to documenting the Algerian revolution. The exhibition also includes rarely seen videos, such as The End of the Road (2010).

In her installation Sunken Stories, Sedira focuses on the wooden dhows that have long facilitated trade to and from the Arabian Gulf as she ponders how places are shaped by the movement of people, goods and culture across the sea. In Air Affairs, Sedira contemplates the Emirate of Sharjah through its historic British Imperial Airways (BIA) airport. She retraces the BIA route from London to Sharjah to Karachi and creates a travelogue informed by her journey. Laughter in Hell is an expansion of her long-running interest in traditions of oral history, and more profoundly, the performative transmission of knowledge across generations. Examining the dark humour that emerged during Algeria’s ‘black decade’ (1991–2001), a period of internal war resulting in the deaths of an estimated 200,000 people, this work considers how joke telling can become a way for trauma to be emotionally assimilated within society. In the face of ever-present violence, laughter becomes a political, spiritual and palliative practice of resistance.

About Zineb Sedira

Solo exhibitions of Sedira’s work include Now You See Me – Now You See Me, VCUQ Gallery, Virginia Commonwealth University, Doha (2016); Collecting Lines, Art on the Underground, London (2016); Lighthouse in the Sea of Time, Blaffer Art Museum, University of Houston, US (2013); Gardiennes d’images, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2010); Les rêves n’ont pas de titre, Musée d’art contemporain (MAC), Marseille (2010); Under the Sky and Over the Sea, Kunsthallen Nikolaj, Copenhagen (2010) and MiddleSea, Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art, Toronto (2010).

Her work has also been featured in numerous group exhibitions, including Essential Paysage, Al Maaden Art Gallery, Centre d’Art contemporain Africain, Marrakech (2016); do it بالعربي, Sharjah Art Foundation (2016); L’Iris de Lucy: Artistes africaines contemporaines, Musée départemental d’art contemporain de Rochechouart, France (2016); The Translator’s Voice, Museo de Arte Contemporánea de Vigo, Spain (2015); The Divine Comedy, Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC (2015); The Unfinished Conversation, Beirut Art Centre (2015); Terms & Conditions, Singapore Art Museum (2013); Family Matters: The Family in British Art, Tate Britain, London (2013) and Still Life: Art, Ecology and the Politics of Change, Sharjah Biennal 8 (2007).

Sedira’s work is part of the public collections of the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Tate Modern, London; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow Museums; Arts Council England, London; Musée d’art contemporain, Marseille; museum moderner kunst stiftung ludwig wien, Vienna and Sharjah Art Foundation.

In 2011, Sedira founded aria, an artist residency programme in Algeria. She was nominated for the Prix Marcel Duchamp (2015) and was a Sharjah Art Foundation Production Programme grantee (2014). She was also the recipient of the SAM Art Prize, Paris (2009) and Decibel Award, Arts Council, London (2004).

She holds a BA (hons) in Critical Fine Art Practice, Central Saint Martins School of Art, London (1995) and an MFA in Media from the Slade School of Art, London (1997). She also pursued research studies in photography at the Royal College of Art, London (1998–2003). Born in Paris in 1963, she currently lives and works between London, Algiers and Paris.

About Sharjah Art Foundation

Sharjah Art Foundation is an advocate, catalyst and producer of contemporary art within the Emirate of Sharjah and the surrounding region, in dialogue with the international arts community. Under the leadership of founder Hoor Al Qasimi, a curator and artist, the foundation advances an experimental and wide-ranging programmatic model that supports the production and presentation of contemporary art, preserves and celebrates the distinct culture of the region and encourages a shared understanding of the transformational role of art. The foundation’s core initiatives include the long-running Sharjah Biennial, featuring contemporary artists from around the world; the annual March Meeting, a convening of international arts professionals and artists; grants and residencies for artists, curators and cultural producers; ambitious and experimental commissions and a range of travelling exhibitions and scholarly publications.

Established in 2009 to expand programmes beyond the Sharjah Biennial, which launched in 1993, the foundation is a critical resource for artists and cultural organisations in the Gulf and a conduit for local, regional and international developments in contemporary art. The foundation’s deep commitment to developing and sustaining the cultural life and heritage of Sharjah is reflected through year-round exhibitions, performances, screenings and educational programmes in the city of Sharjah and across the Emirate, often hosted in historic buildings that have been repurposed as cultural and community centres. A growing collection reflects the foundation’s support of contemporary artists in the realisation of new work and its recognition of the contributions made by pioneering modern artists from the region and around the world.

Sharjah Art Foundation is a legally independent public body established by Emiri Decree and supported by government funding, grants from national and international nonprofits and cultural organisations, corporate sponsors and individual patrons.

All events are free and open to the public.

Media Contacts

Alyazeyah Al Reyaysa