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”, Zineb Sedira’s first solo show in Lebanon and also the title of a new work, refers to the way some singular voices can trace paths through the blind alleys of history, at once building narrative and unravelling 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 inscribes within the long, violent story of French colonization of Algeria. In her primary video installations, by staging documentary-style 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 activate 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.
Films, photographs, sculptures and documents, are displayed with reference to the artist’s way of investigating her immediate surrounding as well as larger phenomenon – for instance circulation of trade or information. A selection from Sedira’s photographic series, and part of her work on Algerian caricaturists complete a portrait of the artist’s twenty-year-long practice presented in the context of Beirut.
Curated by Marie Muracciole