Zineb Sedira (10 September – 19 October 2008)

MiddleSea by Zineb Sedira, 2008, installation view at Wapping Hydraulic Power Station
MiddleSea by Zineb Sedira, 2008, installation view at Wapping Hydraulic Power Station

MiddleSea  was an exhibition featuring Zineb Sedira’s single screen film installation, shot on super16 colour film, and a series of light boxes.

Sedira explores a traveller’s poetic and dream-like journey by sea. A man wanders in a somnambulant state, hypnotised by the immensity of the horizon, alone amidst a plate of water.

The exhibition was part of Found in Translation Series supported by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation. MiddleSea was produced by Artsadmin.

MiddleSea is undoubtedly the most accomplished work to date in this new phase of Sedira’s practice. Set on a ship cruising from Algiers to Marseilles, it unravels like a ballade, a visual meditation on the state of transit. The camera wanders over the white decks, sometimes catching the breathtaking immensity of the horizon, sometimes, in a series of verging-on-abstract shots, capturing the ethereal beauty of the tiniest details, the sea water caught in the deck’s rusted paint or the droplets in the boat’s wake. A man, alone, rambles in the empty corridors of the deserted vessel. He seems to be waiting, caught in a bubble of suspended time. It’s the Mediterranean, but it could be anywhere. The sky, the sea, the ship and the lonely figure, function like the schematic elements of an endlessly repeated story of departure and ever-delayed returns. The soundtrack, composed by Mikhail Karikis – a deft amalgam of location recordings, instrumental snippets and sound collages – comes to disturb the film’s almost too-smooth aesthetic. Combining unnervingly high pitches with the heavy breathing of the ship’s engine, it reinforces the overruling feeling of melancholic uneasiness and gives to MiddleSea a depth inaccessible to the visual alone.

Coline Milliard, Frieze, 2008