Massinissa Selmani, an Algerian artist born in 1980, began his studies in art in Tours, France after obtaining a degree in computer science. Today, he makes use of multiple media (drawings, archives, photographs, texts, newspapers) in order to reappraise political and social events of the past with new meanings, commenting them with both irony and a distinctive simplicity.
Present at the Venice Biennale in 2015 with the two works “A-t-on besoin des ombres pour se souvenir? (2013-2014)” (trans. “Does one need shadows to remember?“), and “1000 villages (2015)“, he received a special mention for “working in a modest medium which has the capacity to act beyond its scale“.
“1000 villages“, the work shown here, is an analysis and implicit commentary on the failed agrarian revolution undertaken by the Algerian government in 1973.
In the early 70s, Algeria saw the launch of the construction of 1000 socialist villages in order for the rural population to come out of isolation and insecurity, to get back the lands despoiled during the colonization, to advance towards modern agricultural techniques and to be involved in the Algerian revolutionary project, in particular through the agrarian revolution.
Despite the laudable intentions, the project could not be realized in its entirety, often because the implementation and construction of these villages, with few exceptions, have met with ideological or administrative considerations imposing standards to reproduce rather than solutions to the real needs of farmers. The population has gradually lost interest in the project which was stopped a few years later. (excerpt from the introductory text – translation by Socks)
The effects of the socialist pilot project on the rural communities are shown by means of drawings contained in red-covered notebooks. House plans, furniture, and drawings of animals, terrains and spaces are associated to images transferred from cut-outs of period press. As explained in the artist’s own introductory text, these images get increasingly unreadable as we approach the collapse of utopia, ending with one last almost ghostly image.”
Massinissa Selmani page in the Venice Biennale 2015 catalog.
Massinissa Selmani video introduction.
“Massinissa Selmani dessine l’absurdité de la vie à partir de photos de presse” an article on TafMag
“A coups de crayons, Massinissa Selmani désamorce la violence“, an article on Le Monde
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