Now You See Me - Now You See Me
From November 9 to December 10, 2016
November 9, 2016 at 6pm
The Gallery at VCUarts Qatar
SAM Art Projects, The Third Line and kamel mennour, Paris/London.
Zineb Sedira is a multimedia artist who was born in Paris to Algerian parents and is now based in London. Her work deals closely with questions of mobility and memory. This solo show of recent works includes both the multi-channel video installation “Gardiennes d’images (Image Keepers)” (2010), focusing on the archive of Algerian photographer Mohammed Kouoci, as well as selected works from her recent series on the routes and origins of sugar.
The opening of the exhibition in the presence of the artist will be followed by the artist’s talk in VCUarts Qatar’s Atrium on Thursday, November 10 at 12:15pm.
By Holiday Powers, Assistant Professor in Art History, VCUarts Qatar
This exhibition takes its title from Jalal Toufic’s description of film-based cinematic time.
In his essay Middle Eastern Films Before Thy Gaze Returns to Thee—in Less than 1/24 of a second, Toufic brings together Islamic theology and the temporal atomicity of cinema. Toufic looks to the theology of the Ash’arites and the Sufism of Ibn al-Arabi.
As he writes, “For Ibn al-‘Arabi, the things of the world, unlike God, do not have a necessity of existence, so when God gives actual existence to anything, it reverts instantly to inexistence, disappears. God ‘then’ gives existence to a similar thing the next moment. This process goes on indefinitely, making the world an ever-renewed creation.”
Drawing together theology and cinema, Toufic suggests that the idea of renewed creation is a way of “considering the world as subject to processes akin to those of cinema.”1 In films, one frame replaces the earlier one, but the two are held together only. by the nothingness in between. It is through their proximity that we as viewers draw
But in the medium itself, there is only blank space in between the individual frames. He thus conceives of the succession of individual frames of films as a perpetual appearance, disappearance, and reappearance. Unlike in a magic trick (now you see me, now you don’t) here instead is the world as an ever-renewed creation.
Included in the exhibition are three recent works by Zineb Sedira, a multimedia artist who was born in Paris to Algerian parents and is now based in London.
The three-channel video installation Gardiennes d’images (Image Keepers) (2010) focuses on the archive of Algerian photographer Mohammed Kouaci that is held by his wife Safia. Paying close attention to the role of the photographer in the Algerian war for independence, the installation is simultaneously a close personal history of this couple and a meditation on the challenges of archiving and the incompleteness of memory. The past here is not continuously but newly present, as the vast and unorganized collection of photographs is reactivated in the present moment. Nonetheless, this history is not entirely available to be found, making it simultaneously present and past.
The other works in this exhibition focus on the histories of sugar and its routes of production.
Sugar Silo (2013), taken in France’s Port of Marseille, shows a monumental. pyramid of sugar, as well as the empty space of the silo, the sugar gone on its continuing journey to the consumer. The individual grains of sugar are lost in this piece, much less their individual points of departure, as they have been mixed together into one monolithic entity.
Seafaring (2013), on the other hand, places before our eyes containers of sugar culled from specific places: the Antilles, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cuba, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion, Swaziland, and Zambia. Separate from the mountain of sugar, the different grains assert the individuality of their origins. This highly localized history is there even in the vastness of the diptych – the history of the separate sugars – but it cannot be excavated, insofar as these sugars, once mixed together, cannot be separated back to what they once were. Again, here is a history that is lost, that is past, but is also present, that can also be found.
1. Jalal Toufic, “Middle Eastern Films Before Thy Gaze Returns to Thee—in Less than 1/24 of a second” in Forthcoming (Second Edition, Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2014), 118. The specific formulation used in the title of this exhibition differs from what is printed, and comes from the presentation of the same name at the conference “Abstraction Unframed,” NYU Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, May 2016.
Zineb Sedira is a multimedia artist who is best known for her photography and video installations. Her incisive work teases out the complex interplay between transmission, memory, and mobility. Sedira’s work has been the focus of many solo exhibitions at institutions including the Blaffer Art Museum, Houston and the Charles H. Scott Gallery, Vancouver.
Her work has also been included in extensive group exhibitions, such as But a Storm is Blowing from Paradise, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York (2016); Prix Marcel Duchamp, FIAC, Paris (2015); The Translator’s Voice, MARCO – Museo de Arte Contemporanea de Vigo (2015); Unfinished Conversations, Beirut Art Center, Beirut (2015); New Africa, La Villa, Casablanca (2014); Songs of Loss and Songs of Love: Lee Nan-Young and Oum Kulthoum, Gwanju Museum of Art; The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Hell, Purgatory revisited by Contemporary African Artists, MMK Museum fur Modern Kunst, Frankfurt, Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington D.C. (2014 – 2015).
She has won several awards including the Dazibao Prize (2011) and the Prix SAM pour l’art contemporain (2010). Sedira’s work is held in numerous public collections including Centre Pompidou, Musee National d’Art Moderne, Paris; FRAC Provence-AlpesCote d’Azur, Marseille; Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow Museums, Glasgow; Mathaf-Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha; Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Sharjah Art Museum, Sharjah; Tate, London; Victoria and Albert Museum, Contemporary Wall Paper Collections, London.
Holiday Powers is Assistant Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at VCUarts Qatar. She received her Ph.D. from Cornell University, where her doctoral research focused on modernism in Morocco. She has contributed to publications including Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art, The Journal of North African Studies, and Under the Skin: Feminist Art from the Middle East and North Africa Today. She was the Artistic Program Coordinator and in charge of Parallel Projects for the fifth edition of the Marrakech Biennale.
Zineb Sedira: Interview (Part I)
Zineb Sedira: Interview (Part I)