French-Algerian artist rejects BDS after boycotting Israel

‘I have never joined this organization; I have never had acquaintance with this movement. I also firmly condemn any boycott.’ – Zineb Sedira

Hundreds march in Ireland against BDS. (photo credit: LEV HAOLAM)
Hundreds march in Ireland against BDS.
(photo credit: LEV HAOLAM)
Zineb Sedira, the distinguished French-Algerian photographer and video artist who is slated to represent France at the 59th Venise Biennale in 2021, formally rejected the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign targeting Israel.
Sedira sent a statement to the Agence France-Presse on Wednesday in which she flatly denied any connection to BDS. She said the allegations that she supports the BDS movement are “unfounded and slanderous accusations.”
In her statement, she stressed that “I have never joined this organization; I have never had acquaintance with this movement. I also firmly condemn any boycott and I cannot be associated with or support BDS. I oppose BDS and any global boycott that would have the counterproductive effect of affecting and paralyzing women and men who want to live in peace.”
“The withdrawal of my work was instrumentalized by BDS,” Sedira said, adding that “All my work shows my will to be part of a peaceful relationship between men and women.”
In 2017, Ynet reported that Sedira was one of “five Muslim artists from different countries asked to have their work removed... from the 3rd Mediterranean Biennale, which is scheduled to open in the Sakhnin Valley... following pressure from the BDS movement. The artists said they decided to cancel their participation in the Israeli exhibition as a show of solidarity with the Palestinian people.”
Sedira’s reversal signifies a stunning setback to BDS efforts to influence artists to boycott Israel.
The pro-Israel French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy caused a commotion on Twitter regarding the BDS support for Sedira, as well as expressing his displeasure at the fact she is representing France. In a second Tweet, Lévy expressed support for Sedira for her opposition to BDS: “She now condemns BDS and all forms of discrimination and hatred: that is the bottom line.”
According to the Guggenheim organization’s online profile of Sedira, her “multiple identities as a French-born Algerian living in England inform her serene, often haunting, photographs and video installations, which consider questions of memory, displacement and the transmission of history.”
The entry continues that, “Sedira explores the traditional gender roles of Arab women, particularly as passed from mother to daughter. The three-channel video Mother Tongue (2002) presents members of three generations discussing childhood in their native languages – the artist in French, her mother in Arabic and her daughter in English – until communication breaks down between daughter and grandmother, who have no language in common.”


Tags france bds art