‘Sanctuary: Home, Away, the Common Ground. 11 July-21 September 2013

Hanging gardens of Babylon

‘Sanctuary: Home, Away, the Common Ground.
11 July-21 September 2013

SANCTUARY ARTISTS present the exploration of the cultural, political, social and environmental differences and commonalities that construct the concept of Sanctuary from the perspective of ‘Home, Away and Common Ground’ at theBrunei Gallery, SOAS, University of London.

Participating artists are: Patrick Altes , Algeria; Madi Acharya-Baskerville, U.K.; Lindsay Duncanson, U.K.; Annabelle Hulbert, U.K. ; James Mbuthia, Kenya; Kamal Shah, Kenya; Prina Shah, Kenya and Michael Taylor, U.K.

Exhibition Invitations 2013


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This exhibition of digital artworks and paintings by French artist Patrick Altes explores representation, diaspora, and transition within the context of the colonisation of Algeria and the Algerian revolution.  It is an artistic “Truth and Reconciliation process” as well as a deeply personal and subjective exploration of identity. The exhibition is the culmination of a one-year Leverhulme Trust residency by Altes at the University of Portsmouth.

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If I believe my feelings and the way people talk and react, there is still something going on between France and Algeria.  A sense of fraternity or animosity is frequently encountered but what is often lacking is simple plain indifference.  For good or for worse, people care; love and anger are flowing.  Love, friendship very often.  The feeling can really be fantastic.  You talk to an Algerian guy you’ve never met before and you end up calling each other “brother’ and having the most fantastic discussions.  It’s a really pleasant feeling and then you start thinking about the bloody mess that we (as a nation) made in Algeria and you muse about Camus and his last unfinished novel…

beautiful but not quite it.  Algeria was already Algeria when it got invaded and the civilising mission was a demented joke, but it seems that we failed doubly.  Not only didn’t we manage to make Algeria part of France but we may also have lost part of our soul and heart in the process.

What I recognise and love when I talk to an Algerian (forgive the gross generalisation, I am talking from the limited number of conversations that are part of my personal experience), is the warmth, immediacy and way of communicating that could have been part of us had we put into practice the legacy and spirit of the French revolution in Algeria.

Hopefully a new era has dawned and things can be mended.

Reading about the history of the Algerian from an English e.i. less biased perspective is a very instructive process.  It underlines the meanderings of French politics, the strange mixture of utopian idealisms and contrasts it with the harsh reality of oppression.  The complexity of the invoqued image is fascinating but cannot detract from some horrendus facts such as the widespread and logically justified use of torture in the subjugation of Algeria.