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Mother, Father and I

Zineb Sedira
2003
20 mins Colour Sound
Video triptych

Mother, Father and I

Mother, Father and I (2003) underscores the importance of how our memory works.

The artist's parents narrate the Algerian War and their exile to France. It is in their daughter that they confide this, a first-time telling of their stories to a descendant of theirs, casting her in the roles of at once artist, viewer and actress. The outside onlooker becomes witness to a family drama and is thrust into the very heart of this private sphere. Ensconced within the abyss separating communities unable to understand each other, the onlooker seeks to grasp what brought about such a climate of fear, of rapes, massacres and assassinations. Whether it be the French Army or the Harkis, the mother discloses the war's perversity: behind "The French killed a lot of members of our family ..." lies " In truth, it was our own people, Arabs like us, who made our lives so miserable." In the final analysis, there would be no respite. Exiled in France, the family would continue to meet distrust and racism. The father brings his story to an end by unconsciously underscoring the way History can repeat itself: "The French will tell you that you are Arabs, so get out." Well-informed viewers are aware that only a lucid understanding of the past and the various memories thereof, together with a vision of a different future, will bring about tolerant attitudes and universal values.
Sarah Zuercker, Syncretic Landscapes and Outlooks,

Commissioned by St. Louis Museum of Art, St. Louis, Missouri, USA

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