Tate Modern

Zineb Sedira

Blavatnik Building Level 0
Zineb Sedira, ‘Mother Tongue’ 2002
Zineb Sedira, Mother Tongue 2002. Tate. © Zineb Sedira

In Mother Tongue 2002 three generations of women from the same family, born in three different countries, try to exchange childhood memories in their native languages

Zineb Sedira was born in Paris to Algerian parents, and moved to London to study art. Her photographic and video works address issues of cultural displacement and the personal and social consequences of migration. They are often autobiographical, as is the case with Mother Tongue, where she appears alongside her mother and daughter to show the shifts in cultural identities that have happened within her own family.

On the first monitor from the left, the artist speaks in French to her mother, who replies in Arabic. On the second the artist speaks in French to her English-speaking daughter. On the final monitor, the young girl tries to communicate with her grandmother in English, who in turn tries to engage with her in Arabic, but the two find it more difficult to understand each other.

The dialogues in Mother Tongue recall how cultural identity is traditionally preserved by storytelling from one generation to the next. Here, however, communication has become fragmented, reflecting an increasingly complex sense of identity and belonging.

Curated by Valentina Ravaglia

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Tate Modern
Bankside
London SE1 9TG
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