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intimate stories from Algeria at the Maison des arts in Malakoff

Ten Algerian and Algerian artists are gathered at the Maison des arts de Malakoff (Hauts-de-Seine). Most were born in Algiers or Oran, in the 1960s and 1970s. Their workshops are in Algeria and France. Their modes of creation are diverse, from drawing to video, installation and performance.

The only thing in common: direct or indirect references to the history of their country, from the colonial period to today, with the most recent period predominating, that of the upsurge in immigration and, since 2019, that of the Hirak demonstrations, for freedom. There are narratives and documentaries, and others that are symbolic. Far from opposing each other, fashions complement and respond to each other.

Of the need to write and tell a story that is not that of official speeches, Fatima Chafaa is exemplary. His installation consists of images and documents displayed on the wall as well as a video. The subject is simple, a family chronicle. It began in 1956, with the destruction by the French army of the native village, Takamra, in Kabylia, and the forced transfer of its population to the seaside, to a station then called Guyotville – today Aïn Benian -, where entire neighborhoods were built to house the deportees, which then made it the most Kabyle town in Algiers.

But this terrible episode is not the only one marked by pain because, by following the destinies of her brothers and sisters, Fatima Chafaa recalls subjects well known to some – the Kabyle cause, immigration to France, the Islamist terrorism – and less for others – union struggles under a socialist regime, feminist struggles, the economic crisis of the 1980s. In this way she constructs an intimate and collective narrative which simply states, without emphasis, what happened .

Cultural issues

Although it is placed at the end of the course, we would recommend starting with it, especially since many other works focus more particularly on moments of this long narrative. Louisa Babari shows the relations between postcolonial Algeria and what was then called “Eastern bloc”, through her film Diary of an Algerian student in Moscow and the three collages ofA secret song, masterpieces of almost cubist assemblies to be deciphered in detail.

Questions of specific languages ​​and cultures, authorized or prohibited, are common to the film by Sabrina Idiri Chemloul and Fatima Idiri, whose heroines are the singers and dancers of the Aurès, and to the mural installation by Walid Bouchouchi, inventor of ideograms which could belong to Tamazight to Arabic and French, the three most spoken languages ​​in Algeria.

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