A few questions with Zineb Sedira

French-born, London-based Algerian artist discusses immigration, motherhood and memory

“Dead End” by Zineb Sedira>
Artist Zineb Sedira was born in France to Algerian immigrant parents and now calls London home. That cross-cultural, multi-lingual biography has acutely informed Sedira’s video and photography work. Her films and multi-panel installations explore perceptions of self and place and the importance of memory. Tonight, Sedira is the special guest speaker at ART PAPERS Live! at the Spelman Museum of Fine Art, an event which serves as the closing ceremony for the 2011 edition of Atlanta Celebrates Photography. Sedira took a few moments after disembarking at Hartsfield-Jackson last night to answer a few questions about her immigrant experiences and how becoming a mother made the aural experience of her work as important as the visual.

What is your background? When did photography enter your life?
My background is video and photographic installation. I have used photography from the beginning of my art studies and it developed in conjunction with moving image.

Your work often addresses perceptions of self and place, particularly those moments in between coming and going. Would you talk a little about how your personal and family experiences as an immigrant have informed your work?
I used my parent’s immigration to Paris from Algeria in the early ’60s as a starting point to all my work. Then came my own ‘displacement’ from Paris to London in 1986. These experiences: departure/arrival, coming/going were used to create work as they are obviously linked to the idea of mobility. In a now globalized world, mobility is part of people lives so my interest in mobility is very relevant to current touristic, social and political currents.

What are your thoughts on all of the tension surrounding immigration in the U.S?
This is interesting as in a time where mobility has become acceptable be it for tourism or business, immigration creates fear… Immigration means a stay of communities often from different culturally and religiously countries. Their residence is the cause of the problem and how this might affect the ‘receiving’ country. But this fear can be seen also in many European countries.