Zineb Sedira | Transmettre en Abyme

The arts of transmission, or rather, of tradition, as Francis Bacon defined them in the latin expression ars tradendi, are those that enable us to share heritage, document history, and transmit knowledge, all of this while injecting one’s outlook into the significant works. 

Transmettre en Abyme, Three-Screen Video Installation, Still 1  

In other words, what we know today is the result of thorough research and observation, transposed onto media that varies as epochs go by. This effort to avoid  the possible gaps in order for our present and future to understand our past is what constitutes the practice of Zineb Sedira, who works predominantly with photography and video installation. In a 2012 work titled Transmettre en abyme, currently shown at Carré d’Art contemporary museum in Nîmes,  France as part of an exhibition presenting the finalists of the Prix Marcel Duchamp, Ageria-born Sedira persists with historical recordings. 

Transmettre en Abyme, Three-Screen Video Installation, Still 2

Her multi-channel video installation consists of two screens that capture the same scene from different angles: seen from above, the artist’s hand places a succession of boat photographs onto a wooden table that, shown from a sideway view on an adjacent screen, progressively reveals a historically layered phalanx of black and white ships. They represent a small fraction of Yvon Colas’s (also known as Baudelaire) collection of vessels, shot between 1935 and 1985 as they enter and leave the port of Marseille. By mentioning the name of each ship in alphabetical order as she lays an image thereof down, Sedira expresses her determination to analyse, classify, and narrate, in order not to forget. On a perpendicular wall, a third video is projected: that of Helene Detaille—the current owner of a photographic archive spanning over a century, as she gives a detailed account of Baudelaire’s practice to Sedira. Her narrative constitutes a mise en abyme of the artist’s sequenced perusing through visual records and further participates in setting a documentary tone that undeniably honours those like Sedira—guardians of history whose practices anticipate the filling in of knowledge gaps for future generations. In times when cultural heritage becomes a target for the philistine with increasing frequency, such custodial efforts prove indispensable.  

All images courtesy of The Third Line and the artist 

Watch Transmettre en Abyme by Zineb Sedira here