Alger Insolite

Untitled, Marrakesh, Morocco
03 May 2021 - 30 May 2021

Souvenir d'Alger, from the series Soyez les Bienvenus, 2018, 100 x 70 cm. © Katia Kameli ADAGP

Souvenir d'Alger, from the series Soyez les Bienvenus, 2018, 100 x 70 cm. © Katia Kameli ADAGP

Alger Insolite is thought of as an open reflection around the politics of space and their entanglements with image.

The title of the project Alger Insolite, refers to the movie directed in 1971 by Mohamed Zinet Tahia Ya Didou, Alger Insolite. In his movie, Zinet developed a poetic of spatial appropriation by assembling poetry, moving images and an intrigue which evolved around Algiers-center. With his cinematic work, Zinet approached the project of physical urban appropriation through the realm of the imaginary. Produced during the first decade of Algerian independence, the film activated the historical materiality and poetic potential of the newly liberated city. The urban space then figured as archival matter, a palimpsest on which the artistic action would inscribe itself. A palimpsest is a parchment whose first writing has been erased in order to write a new text. This political and visual act is central to the reflection developed in this project.

Let us take for example the demonstrations of the Hirak in Algiers during the last two years. The protesters, in their plurality, re-appropriated, reconfigured and seized the material environment of Alger-Centre and in this process, the material history of the urban structures acted on their very action.

Alger-Centre offered itself as a contested palimpsest on which struggles and counter-struggles for visibility constantly overwrite themselves. Historical writing happened through vernacular images, photographs and videos of the protest that extended beyond the physical space of Alger-Centre and acted on the imaginary and representational realm as well. One wonders in this context, whether Alger-Centre was not in fact used as the site for the Friday marches in a conscious or unconscious effort to fragment time and space, open up possibilities of different pasts, present and futures and create a model of materialist historiography.

In this perspective, Alger Insolite proposes open threads to speculate on the dialectical relationship between space and image by using specifically the neighbourhood of Algiers-centre as an entry point, and as a space to ground our reflection.

Indeed, the dialectic space-image reveals its potential in historical moments such as the first moments of the Algerian independence, the civil war of the 90s or more recently the Hirak. What can the urban history of Algiers teach us about the role of images in power struggles? How can images become sites of struggle and resistance? Do they hold the potential to reconfigure dynamics of domination? How do artworks and images in general become part of collective performance? What logics of visibility and occultation have been put in place? How can the archival politics of these images inform us about their function? How does artistic action participate in historical writing ? What is the role of the poetic in this process?

It is impossible to understand the space-image dialectic in the particular case of Algiers-Centre, by turning to a single space and a single moment. Revisiting this history in its various dimensions of erasure,solidification and exclusion will allow us to apprehend this space-image relationship in a more complete way. It is by posing the two concepts of image and space in parallel that we hope to expand the understanding of those two concepts.

Alger Insolite is thought of as an open reflection that relies on the plurality of voices of the artistic and discursive propositions. We gladly invite you to send contributions and comments in order to broaden the scope of the questioning and enrich the list of references mentioned below.

Alger Insolite is curated by Beya Othmani and Salsabil Kettaf.

The program is supported by the French Institute of Algeria and the association Alter’Solidaire.

It is part of the general program IF A TREE FALLS IN A FOREST, curated by UNTITLED DUO for the Rencontres photographiques d’Arles 2021.



All content © 2024 Contemporary And. All Rights Reserved. Website by SHIFT