A brush with... Zineb Sedira

Zineb Sedira talks to Ben Luke about her influences—from writers to musicians, film-makers and, of course, other artists—and the cultural experiences that have shaped her life and work. Sedira, born in Paris in 1963 to Algerian parents and based in London since 1986, uses film, photography, installation, sculpture and other media to reflect on memory, from the personal to the collective and historical. She explores representation, language and family, intimately informed by her French, Algerian and British identity. By mining her singular autobiography and its connection with colonial histories and their contemporary legacies, Sedira has created a body of work that is at once politically nuanced, emotionally complex and visually rich. She discusses her early interest in Mary Kelly, her enduring engagement with the art of JMW Turner, and her admiration for the Algerian painter Baya. She reflects on her fascination with the Pan-African Festival in Algiers in 1969, the subject of a body of work. And she talks about her love of jazz and ska, the influence of postcolonial writers, among much else. Plus, she gives insight into her studio life and answers our usual questions, including the ultimate: “what is art for?”

Zineb Sedira: Dreams Have No Titles, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 15 February-12 May; the film version of the work is on display at Tate Britain until September 2024; Dreams Have No Titles, Cultural Foundation, Abu Dhabi , UAE, 3 October-28 January 2025; Let’s go on singing!, Goodman Gallery, London, until 16 March; Standing Here Wondering Which Way to Go, Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon, Portugal, 19 June 2025-22 September 2025.

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