PORTFOLIO Images - Courtesy of the artist, The Third Line, Dubai and Plutschow Gallery, Zürich. Writer - Yasmina Reggad, curator.
Zineb Sedira: Mobility, Memory and Transmission of ‘White Gold’ Over the 15 years of her practice, Zineb Sedira
tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world,
has enriched the debate around the concepts of
from Africa and Oceania to the Caribbean, the
modernism, modernity and its manifestations in an
West Indies and the shores of Latin America.
inclusive way. She has also raised awareness of artistic
The different shades of ochre in these sugars
expression and contemporary experience in North
kept in small sample bottles conserve the
Africa. She found inspiration initially in researching
history of the domestication of the sugar plant
her identity as a woman with a singular personal
and the subsequent manufacture of cane sugar.
geography. From these autobiographical concerns
This ‘white gold’ is associated with explorers
she gradually shifted her interest to more universal
and discoveries, human migration and endless
ideas of mobility, memory and transmission. Sedira
journeys across seas and oceans. Not only was
has also addressed environmental, geographical and
sugar cane brought to be cultivated on the alien
cultural issues, negotiating between both past and
soils of the colonies because of their appropriate
future. Using portraits, landscapes, language and
climate, but also it required the displacement and
archival research, she has developed a polyphonic
enslavement of populations to work on sugar
vocabulary, spanning fiction and documentary
plantations. This fed the triangular trade routes
including poetic and lyrical approaches. Sedira has
of the 19th and 20th centuries.
worked in installation, photography, film and video. She has recently returned to object-making.
With the sculpture Sugar Routes II, Sedira metaphorically summarizes the human dilemma
In the series Sugar Routes, developed in a sugar
as well as the dynamics of coming, going and
silo located in the Port of Marseille, France, Sedira
remaining still that the sea engenders in us.
proposes possible archaeology and geopolitics
The artist used one kind of sugar to recreate
of the commodification of natural resources. In
two emblematic symbols of movement in the
her monumental photographs, mountains of
sea: the anchor and the propeller. Gripping the
sugar stocked in warehouses take the form of
bottom of the sea and holding the ship firmly in
landscapes, craters, geological and topographical
place, the anchor anticipates the vessel’s arrival
strata. Once the buildings are emptied, layers of
and the memories to be kept and transmitted.
sugar dust imprint themselves upon the walls of the
Meanwhile, the propeller is the force which drives
silo, creating abstract murals. On the floor, heavy
us forward, between countries, or simply towards
machines leave evidence of the mass mechanical
industrialization of the sugar trade. Catalog excerpt commissioned by The Third
Granulated sugar transported in bulk to Marseille
Line Gallery to coincide with Zineb Sedira’s solo
to be stored is extracted from sugar cane in
exhibition Sand of Time at the gallery.
Photography and New Media from the Arab world