Zineb Sedira’s most recent show, Currents of Time, is an intensely aesthetic experience that transports viewers to a coastline in Mauritania through 17 new photographic light box works and a full-room installation. Working with the notions of migration, mobility and displacement, the artist brings to light the plight of the region, carefully balancing beauty and decay, desolation and prosperity. The Mauritanian coastline that Sedira captures, scattered with rusting ships, has become a scrap yard for the world’s shipping industry and a point of departure for migrants seeking a better life in Europe. The apocalyptic landscape’s rusting metal boosts the local economy, while simultaneously marring the natural environment of the sea.
The video and sound installation, Floating Coffins (2009), is shown on 14 screens, in an eight to ten minute loop. The images are breathtakingly beautiful—dramatic, decaying trade vessels rusting beneath clear blue skies and the angles of the film continuously change—shot from the sea and from the beach, within ships and looking to them. They can be seen in any order—a practicality for the viewer—who can enter the installation at any time. The surround sound of the wind and the occasional screeching of sea birds, added by sound artist Mikhail Karikis, emphasizes the harshness of a landscape left to the scavenging of both local wildlife and a local population trying to glean valuable metals from the wreckage.
Upstairs, in Project Space 2, the light box works continue the artist’s collection of images of Mauritania. The light boxes hang on the wall and lie against each other on the gallery floor, propped up at odd angles that mirror the disjointed hulls and capsized vessels in the photographs. Currents of Time is not only a poignant exhibition that pays homage to the narrative of a place—it shows what it means for a landscape to be wasted.
-- Ashley Vaughan
All images courtesy the artis and Iniva
Images from Top to Bottom: (Zineb Sedira, The Lovers, 2009, copyright the artist; Zineb Sedira, Shipwreck series (2), 2009, copyright the artist; Zineb Sedira, Floating Coffins, 2009, video still, courtesy the artist; Zineb Sedira, Shipwreck series (1), 2009, copyright the artist)