Zineb Zedira’s intervention begins even before entering the French pavilion inside the Giardini of the Venice Biennale: a plywood roof acts as an introductory tunnel to the complex staging operation that the artist has made inside the space of the pavilion.
Dreams have no Titles (2022) is an installation that is built and deconstructed within a set that is itself a performance and which in turn is transformed into a video installation and then becomes staged again. We are between the sixties and seventies of the twentieth century, the rooms of the pavilion are decorated first as a bar in which dancers perform a tango illuminated by the classical lights of the theater, then we move into a living room decorated with movie posters, and at the end we get to the faithful reconstruction of an Algerian cinema in which clips of great Italian and Algerian classics of that time are shown. Turning around the pavilion, the echoes of what has been seen in the films screened or even in rooms previously visited return: the living room reappears in the form of a preparatory model for the arrangement of the scenography. The viewer is overwhelmed by this mise en abyme in which the personal dimension of the artist is combined with a collective historical experience playing with a plurality of expression of different artistic practices.

The impossibility of precisely defining the boundaries of Zedira’s intervention is what also restores its value: dancing between reality and fiction, the artist manages to bring the viewer into an imaginary and ensure that current themes such as colonialism, racial discrimination and the historical construction of a collective identity emerge naturally within the visit itinerary. Reporting, almost like an archaeologist, and reconstructing the daily dimensions of her childhood, the artist continues her investigation of the post-colonial context that characterizes Europe. Daughter of Algerians but raised in France, Zedira finds in cinema the cultural basin in which to bring these issues together, as a mirror of the daily reality of the time and a metaphor for the continuous influence we live in the present.

Almost like a documentary fiction that comes out of the film and expands into space, Dreams have no Titlesshows how communication between cultures is never univocal but that the exchange levels of thoughts and fantasies can be many. Zedira’s work is a liberating act against oppressive cultural legacies, in favor of a plural and shareable approach.

Zineb Zedira
Dreams have no titles
Pavillion of France
59 International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, The Milk of Dreams
© Photo: Marco Cappelletti, courtesy: La Biennale di Venezia