Floating Coffins is a striking combination of three video and sound installations observing Algerian life. The artist, Zaneb Sadira left her homeland, Algeria, and lived in France and then England, unable to return home due to the civil war. These art works tell of her rediscovery of Algeria and the impact modern Africa had on her. The three installations focus on the idea of a journey creating a sense of isolation and displacement.
Floating Coffins has 14 screens which show the harbour of Nouadhibou as a deserted, eerie place. Zanib conveys wreckages of ships as floating graves as they balance on the shore, far from the water. The scene is that of a waste land where ruins of once majestic ships lie inanimate and ineffectual. The sound that accompanies these images is loud and piercing and is projected from speakers which hang like sea mines above your head. Nouadhibou was the port where illegal immigrants would hope to travel to Europe from; therefore, Floating Coffins also conveys a sense of hope for a better life. Zanib states that ‘Floating Coffins is a space where life, death, loss, escape, abandoned and shipwrecked journeys meet. It’s both a toxic graveyard and a source of survival and hope.’
The two other installations are equally thought provoking. Saphir and Middle Sea focus on a journey, whether it is of rediscovery or of a physical transition. They similarly focus on ships and water, a combination of manmade and natural elements, and how they may bring freedom to people.
This exhibition instantly grabs your attention and incites interest. Although you do feel slightly uneasy walking around the installations, they still manage to fascinate and inform in a creative and startling way. This exhibition is on at The New Art Exchange from the 6th of February to the 19th of April and although it is slightly out of the city centre is definitely worth visiting.