press release

Historically, words and stones have been used for construction materials as well as improvised weapons. Stones have also been used as physical markers, whether traces of natural landscape formation, tools to demarcate borders or, as milestones, to signal the distance between places. Of Words and Stones, the artist’s first solo show in Lebanon, is also the title of a new work and refers to the way some singular voices can trace paths through the blind alleys of history, at once building narrative and unraveling trauma and oblivion.

Language and oral transmission play an important role in Sedira’s early works. The artist unpacks deeply personal issues, such as a family history inscribed within the violent story of French colonization of Algeria. In her primary video installations, by shooting interviews of herself and her parents, Sedira became one of the first visual artists to raise a voice against France’s silence about the colonial situation.

Hence Zineb Sedira’s vision and practice activated processes of identificatory modalities, by opposition to identity mythologies. From acts of ventriloquism to intercessions through dialogue and exchange, her work triggers the circulation and constant reinvention of a subjective position.

Of Words and Stones displays films, photographs, documents and an installation, with reference to the artist’s way of investigating her immediate surrounding as well as a larger phenomenon—circulation of trade or of information. The sculpture, Of Words and Stones, recently produced at Beirut Art Center, stems from Tracing a Territory, 2016, and bridges the imaginary with physical measurements of space. The records of the territorial legacies of Sedira’s father are converted into sculptures that demarcate the exhibition space. Selections from Sedira’s photographic series, and part of her recent work about the Algerian journalists who were killed during the Black Decade complete a portrait of the artist’s 20-year-long practice presented in the context of Beirut.

Curated by Marie Muracciole

This exhibition is generously supported by The Third Line and The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture