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Zineb Sedira: ‘Dreams Have No Titles’

  • Art
  • Whitechapel Gallery, Whitechapel
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
4. Zineb Sedira Installation view from Dreams Have no Titles at the Venice Biennale 2022 Photo_ Thierry Bal 2
4. Zineb Sedira Installation view from Dreams Have no Titles at the Venice Biennale 2022 Photo_ Thierry Bal 2

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Take a seat at the bar, or find your marker on the dancefloor – the lights have dimmed, playback has started, and someone is about to shout ‘action!’ You are now an actor in British Franco-Algerian artist Zineb Sedira’s movie.

Or movies, plural, actually, because she’s transformed the Whitechapel Gallery (just as she did the French Pavilion at the last Venice Biennale) into a series of sets based on classic films; there’s the dancehall bar from ‘Le Bal’, a home from ‘The Battle of Algiers’, the coffin from ‘The Stranger’. All films made in the wake of Algerian independence in 1962, all made between Algeria and Europe, all passionate documents of liberation, the radical potential of social upheaval and the power of militant cinema. 

Sedira endlessly blurs lines. Are you, as a viewer of the work, an actor? The director? The audience, sat on rickety cinema seats? She builds illusion and breaks it. You can see the studwork holding up the false walls, the lights pointing at the sets, cameras left running. There’s a huge stack of film canisters, a recreation of Sedira’s own Brixton living room. Fiction and reality, audience and actor, all torn apart and muddled together.

Ironically enough, the only thing that lets the show down is Sedira’s own films; a short documentary and a long, rambling conversation of questionable relevance (which also appears in documentary for some reason) between the artist Sonia Boyce and the Whitechapel Gallery’s director Gilane Tawadros. Both films are too proscriptive, they try to give too many answers to an installation that only works because it forces you to engage. 

Sedira’s love letter to militant cinema is a celebration of the death of colonialism, the early sparks of liberation and the ecstatic potential of revolution. Cinema provides a moment of fantasy where you can feel close to these events, and by allowing you to participate in these films of freedom and rebellion, Sedira is allowing you to taste just a hint of what it might mean to shrug off the shackles of oppression.

Eddy Frankel
Written by
Eddy Frankel


Whitechapel Gallery
77-82 Whitechapel High St
E1 7QX
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