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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

new futures.

industrialization of the sugar trade. Catalog excerpt commissioned by The Third

70 tribe

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.

Tribe 01  

Photography and New Media from the Arab world

Tribe 01  

Photography and New Media from the Arab world

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