Zineb Sedira:
Under the Sky and Over the Sea

19. June 2010 to 15. August 2010

Zineb Sedira: Under the Sky and Over the Sea 
June 19 - August 15 2010


At its Lower Gallery, Nikolaj, Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center, showed the first Danish solo exhibition by internationally renowned French-Algerian and London based artist Zineb Sedira. 

In her visually and technically impressive works she investigates the complex senses of belonging that arise out of people crossing borders and developing parallel national and transnational ties. Her video installations and photos raise questions concerning identity, memory, uprootedness and migration. 

A central work of the exhibition was Sedira's most recent and large-scale work Floating Coffins (2009) - a 14 screen video installation shot in the Mauretanian seaport Nouadhibou, opening to the Atlantic Ocean. Sedira focusses on the ambiguous consequences which this aspect of the Western shipbuilding industry has had for the area around the coast of Mauretania: on one hand the shipbreaking taking place there benefits the local economy; on the other hand it has grim consequences in terms of the pollution it causes to the environment. The work succeeds in depicting the paradoxical contrast of its impressive visual side and the disturbing and rather bleak contents of its inherent narrative. With kaleidoscopic finesse the work presents an array of images which in a direct and yet poetic manner bear witness to the implications of this state of affairs. 

The exhibition furthermore included the earlier works Saphir (2006), Mother, Father and I (2003) and Mother Tongue (2002). The latter is an examination of Sedira's own personal family relations and the history they share. In a documentary-like manner, this work stages her parents, their memories of the French-Algerian War and the impact it has had on them, as the very source of her family's uprootedness. The highly personal account creates an insight that transcends the personal and becomes a generally applicable insight into the contrasting emotions that inevitably underlie the act of migrating to another country and a new culture. 

Sedira's works are characterized by the spectacular and sensuous way in which they show how the world surrounding us is threatened by human upheaval and destruction, while at the same time capturing and pointing to the fleeting and contrasting nature of life, thus coming across as both thought-provoking and breathtakingly beautiful. 

Zineb Sedira was born in France by Algerian parents in 1963. She grew up in France and today lives in London. She graduated from Slade School of Art in 1997 and has subsequently studied photography at the Royal Academy of Art, London. Her works have been widely shown internationally, and she was a part of the British Art Show 2006. In 2004, she received the prestigious Art Council Decibel award. In a Danish context, one of her major works was presented in 2008 during the U-TURN Quadrennial for Contemporary Art.

The exhibition had previously been shown at the Pori Art Museum in Finland, and would later  open at the Bildmuseet in Umeå, Sweden. 
Floating Coffins was commissioned by New Art Exchange, Nottingham, UK.