Resistance in Pictures: Assia Djebar on Art

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Resistance in Pictures: Assia Djebar on Art

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The Algerian writer and filmmaker Assia Djebar explores various forms of resistance to oppression and, in particular, women’s responses to colonialism, and their participation in the Algerian war of independence. When doing so, she often turns to images, such as the iconic Delacroix’s Women of Algiers in their Apartment, or a Roman mosaic exhibited in a museum in her hometown Cherchell that represents Odysseus and the Sirens. This lecture examines some of the modes and effects of Djebar’s inclusion of art in her discussion of resistance.

Official discourses historicizing and celebrating acts of resistance are denounced, and Djebar draws attention instead to less publicized testimonies consisting of allusive or discontinuous recollections. Focusing on silent but eloquent images is a corrective to hyperbolic postwar narratives. Dwelling on images also allows her to respond to political positions she rejects or that she wants to complicate in a manner that is not overtly polemical. Confronting others’ views takes place through the interpretation of images. However, the pictures she analyzes are not merely thematic illustrations of her stance. She often concentrates on resistance to unequivocal positions or challenges to interpretation in works of art. Her reliance on visual art at pivotal moments of her analyses is all the more subtle since she does not want to renounce a cultural call for controlling one’s image, for a so-called “invisibility” whose benefits she defends and that she dissociates from gendered subordination and colonial oppression. The Algerian writer and filmmaker Assia Djebar explores various forms of resistance to oppression and, in particular, women’s responses to colonialism, and their participation in the Algerian war of independence. When doing so, she often turns to images, such as the iconic Delacroix’s Women of Algiers in their Apartment, or a Roman mosaic exhibited in a museum in her hometown Cherchell that represents Odysseus and the Sirens. This lecture examines some of the modes and effects of Djebar’s inclusion of art in her discussion of resistance.

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Publication Date

11-4-2019

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African History | Modern Art and Architecture

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Video

Resistance in Pictures: Assia Djebar on Art

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