Exhibitions, Press Release

November 11, 2020

Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020; updated Dec. 3, 2020; updated Jan. 14, 2021; updated April 5, 2021; Updated June 17, 2021

MEDIA CONTACT: Virginia McInnis | [email protected] | 480-874-4663

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art Presents ‘Voice-Over: Zineb Sedira’ On View May 8, 2021 – Jan. 30, 2022

Zineb Sedira, “Standing Here Wondering Which Way to Go”, 2019 (Detail of the installation “Way of Life”). © Zineb Sedira/ ADAGP, Paris, 2019. Courtesy of galleries kamel mennour, Paris/London and The Third Line, Dubaï.

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) brings to Scottsdale London-based artist Zineb Sedira, who will represent France in the 2022 Venice Biennale, with “Voice-Over: Zineb Sedira” on view May 8, 2021 – Jan. 30, 2022.

“Representing one’s country at the Venice Biennale is a tremendous honor for any artist,” said Jennifer McCabe, director and chief curator at SMoCA. “And as the first artist of African descent to represent France, the recognition is particularly significant.”

In her solo-exhibition “Voice-Over,” Sedira will premiere her work “Standing Here Wondering Which Way to Go” in the United States. This installation was first shown in 2019 at the Jeu de Paume in Paris as part of the exhibition “A Brief Moment.” This new iteration of the installation is being created specifically for SMoCA. This work is inspired by the 1969 Pan-African Festival of Algiers — a key historical event that marked Algeria’s important role in various liberation movements in Africa along with the global 1960s political, anti-imperialist, post-colonialist and utopian consciousness — as well as the eponymous William Klein documentary film of the same year.

The installation is composed of four “scenes” echoing cinema, theater and music festival stages. The work’s central element, titled “Way of Life,” is a life-sized diorama that recreates the artist’s own living room in London. Other scenes in “Standing Here Wondering Which Way to Go” explore the sense of utopia and resistance that accompanied the Pan-African Festival in 1969 through various media, including “Mise-en-scène” a film filled with archival footage of Algerian militant films, and “For a Brief Moment the World was on Fire” and “We Have Come Back,” each composed of photomontages of countercultural images.

“Zineb Sedira’s work is as personal as it is political. Although her work is most often based in the investigation of her own identity and history in relationship to the African diaspora, she creates work with expansive themes around memory, migration and the archive. Sedira creates work with expansive themes around memory, migration and the archive. Posing important questions on the relation between history and aesthetics, trauma and form, Sedira has established herself as a significant voice in a global contemporary artworld conversation,” said Natasha Boas, curator of “Voice-Over.”

On view will be several of Sedira’s videos, which focus on her interest in intergenerational oral histories and colonialism — how stories are collected, recorded and transmitted — paying particular tribute to her parents’ native country, Algeria. One of the videos on view, “Mother Tongue” (2002), raises the issue of transmission in a globalized world. The video features three generations of women discussing their childhood in their native languages — the artist in French, her mother in Arabic and her daughter in English — until communication breaks down between daughter and grandmother, who have no language in common. Also being shown is “The End of the Road” (2010). Sedira employs her own voice-over in the video “Mother Tongue” (2002) as a radical device that disrupts conventions of documentary.

This exhibition will also include works by Gordon Parks and Emory Douglas that highlight the United States-based Black Panther connection to Algeria. 

“Voice-Over: Zineb Sedira” is organized by Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and guest curated by Natasha Boas, Ph.D. The exhibition is supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Walter and Karla Goldschmidt Foundation, the Institut Français and the Consulate General of France in Los Angeles.  


Through its partnership with the city of Scottsdale, the nonprofit Scottsdale Arts (formerly known as Scottsdale Cultural Council) creates diverse, inspired arts experiences and educational opportunities that foster active, lifelong community engagement with the arts. Since its founding in 1987, Scottsdale Arts has grown into a regionally and nationally significant, multi-disciplinary arts organization offering an exceptional variety of programs through four acclaimed branches — Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA), Scottsdale Public Art and Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation — serving more than 600,000 participants annually. In conjunction with the City of Scottsdale, we also host more than 200,000 people annually on our campus through a robust rentals program.


Founded in 1999, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) explores the best of contemporary art, architecture and design. Global in its focus, the Museum is a unique and vital cultural resource for the Southwest, serving local audiences as well as visitors from the United States and abroad. Designed by award-winning architect Will Bruder, SMoCA’s minimalist building (an ingenious renovation of a former movie theater) has four galleries for showcasing changing exhibitions and works from the Museum’s collection, along with SMoCA Lounge, a living, functional art installation and space for community engagement. The Museum presents a wide variety of educational programs and special events for adults and families, including lectures, readings, performances, docent-led tours, workshops and classes. SMoCA also features an outdoor sculpture garden housing James Turrell’s “Knight Rise,” one of the renowned artist’s public skyspaces, and “Scrim Wall,” a monumental curtain of translucent glass panels by James Carpenter Design Associates. The Museum’s retail store, Shop@SMoCA, offers classic design objects and furnishings, contemporary jewelry, art and architecture books, and imaginative gifts for all occasions.


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