Another big cheer, for community reporter, Stan Moorcroft, who has been reviewing features for Nour Festival.
Algerianism, if considered at all, in this country tends to be conceptualised as coming in a box marked pied noir, – often wrongly associated with the work of Albert Camus. The French rather than Algerian element taking precedence. This Exhibition however represents a confident exploration by Algerians seeking to explore their own complex identity, though the ghosts of French occupation, colonial presence and influence on Algerian culture is very much present as well.
Now of course the idea that Algeria and metropolitan France were as one was not only absurd but also camouflaged the reality of French imperialism, racism and brutality. That said the French presence in Algeria introduced a unique element into Algerian culture, and it is the ghost of this presence that haunts the pictures of Patrick Altes, a French artist, in which images of the past and present are fused together to suggest continuity rather than the sudden fracture we imagine when we think of revolution and the attainment of independence.
The exhibition represents a direct assault on stereotypes of, more generally North African, and specifically Algerian culture. The exhibition ranging from a young girl dressed in football kit to the more conventional images of Arab culture. Pictures too that display the complex interweaving of the traditional and the modern, as in Mizo’s ‘Once Upon A time El Haik,’ portraying in a variety of poses the traditional white fabric worn by the women of Algiers.
For me the most startling pictures were those of Yasser Ameur, whose modern Take on Delacroix’s Raft of Medusa, Babor Dzaiyer, stayed with me long after I had left the Tabernacle.
Algerianism is as complex and diverse as Algeria itself, but the idea has survived. Indeed a society almost destroyed, especially its democratic and secular elements, by a fascistic Islamist Fundamentalism has survived. And this exhibition celebrates that survival, displaying the work of young original artists seeking to explore continuity and change in this culturally rich North African Republic