Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Art Base: Zineb Sedira

Mother Tongue

Mother Tongue

Zineb Sedira. Mother Tongue, 2002.

Zineb Sedira uses video and photography to depict women--young and old, often Arab--and their relationships with the world and each other. Sedira’s video work "Mother Tongue" looks at three generations of the artist’s family, each communicating in their own 'mother tongue', but unable to communicate directly through words. "Mother Tongue" features documentary-style interviews that the artist conducted with her mother and her daughter. The multilingual nature of the dialogues--in Arabic, French and English--connects past and present, revealing bonds that are subtle yet resilient. About the work Sedira states: “Lack of communication is also a way of conveying meaning. My mother never learned French properly because she wanted to show her rejection of the French language and behavior after the war of independence, even though she and my father lived in France for economic reasons--North African immigrants were used as cheap labor. They experienced a lot of racism, and my parents felt a sense of failure that they had to bring up their children in that culture. They were angry that the French had managed to divide their Arab identity too, setting Algerians against each other by giving French citizenship to Algerian Christians and Jews but not Muslims, so that Arabs and Algerians would turn against each other." --Amy Brandt, Exhibition Assistant, Global Feminisms


language, family, Global Feminisms, relationships, video, Arab, motherhood, multilingual, communication, North Africa, immigrant, racism, Algeria, Muslim

Mother TongueAnd the road goes on…Don’t do to her what you did to meMother, Father and IRetelling Histories, my mother told me...Silent Sight

London, Lambeth
United Kingdom


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