Press release: aria at 1:54 Art Fair with a new commission by Amina Menia

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Walk the streets of the Casbah with Amina Menia for what will be her first solo presentation in London and the 1st artwork in a new commissioning programme by the acclaimed aria



Amina Menia, Sketches of Algiers 1, 2013 © Amina Menia

aria is delighted to present Sketches of Algiers 1, a new site-specific installation by Algerian artist Amina Menia at 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair(Somerset House, London, 15th-20th October 2013). In this immersive installation, viewers are invited to walk the sloping streets of the historic Casbah and the picturesque alleys of this emblematic neighbourhood in the city of Algiers. By deconstructing the cinematic codes used by filmmaker Julien Duvivier in the studios of legendary film noir Pépé le Moko, Menia’s settings, mise-en-scène, lighting and props offer a fictional visit, uncovering little-known aspects of this unique architectural vernacular. The piece also points at the conventions developed by colonial cinema and confront what was once the native neighbourhood of French colonial Algiers with its now-threatened heritage.

Sketches of Algiers 1 was commissioned by aria and curated by curator Yasmina Reggad.

Amina Menia will be in conversation with Dr Anthony Downey at Iniva – Institute of International Visual Arts (18th October 2013) and in association with the Art Fund, Menia will also present her ongoing project Discover Algiers during an interdisciplinary session with architects, academics and artists, exchanging thoughts and feedback with a view to further develop the project (21st October 2013).

Amina Menia says:

Sketches of Algiers 1 is the start of a new body of work. With each project I try to challenge my creative process by exploring new techniques or concepts. I work continuously on and around the city of Algiers and this time, I am questioning the image of Algiers in cinema. I am very lucky to benefit from aria’s attentive support. aria is a hand-in-glove response to the need of the Algerian local artistic scene and it gives an extraordinary visibility to Algerian artists.

A word from Zineb Sedira, founder of aria

Having been invited by 1:54 to present a project, we thought it would best to commission an artist from Algeria to create a site-specific piece. I consider Amina Menia to be one of the most promising artists in Algiers as her work takes new directions which challenge established forms. aria’s commissioning programme gives opportunities to artists in Algeria they wouldn’t normally have. The close collaboration between Amina and Yasmina (our programme curator) exemplifies the kind of work aria want to develop in Algeria.

About artist Amina Menia

Amina Menia lives and works in Algiers. Her work questions the relationship between architectural and historical spaces, and challenges conventional notions around the exhibition space. Her artworks are a crossover of sculpture and installation, triggering interaction from onlookers with socio-spatial configurations. Amina has showed her work both nationally and internationally, including at the Museum of Modern Art in Algiers, Cornerhouse in Manchester, Museum of Contemporary Art in Leon, Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin, National Museum of Carthage in Tunis, Sharjah Bienniale in the UAE and Museum of Contemporary Art in Marseille.

About aria
 (artist residency in algiers)

aria was founded by artist Zineb Sedira in 2011. aria strives to develop cross-border dialogues as well as expanding a dynamic network across diverse international art communities within and beyond Algeria. Through residency, commissioning and exhibitions programmes, aria provides opportunities for emerging and established artists from North Africa and across the world to conduct artistic and cultural research and production. aria collaborates and partners with other institutions and exhibition spaces to give more exposure to Algerian artists and to project a positive awareness and visibility of Algeria and its surroundings to global audiences.

aria upcoming guest artists: Kapwani Kiwanga (lives in Paris, France and works between Paris and Tanzania), Younès Rahmoun (lives and works in Tetouan, Morocco)

aria previous residents: Nicene Kossentini (Tunisia), Basel El Maqosui (Gaza), Alfredo Jaar (Chile/ USA), Mohamed Bourouissa (France/ Algeria), Atef Berredjem (Algeria)

Listing information

Amina Menia | Sketches of Algiers 1
Room g7
16th – 20th October, 10.00 – 18.00
1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair

Zineb Sedira in conversation with Koyo Kouoh, hosted by Christine Eyene
1:54 Forum
18th October, 13.30 – 14.30
1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair
Somerset House
West Wing Strand
Tickets (to see all exhibitors) £12 standard, £5 concession
Website for ticket booking


Amina Menia in conversation with Dr Anthony Downey
18th October, 9.00 – 10.30
Iniva – Institute of International Visual Arts
Rivington Place
Admission is free, but booking is essential.
Website for ticket booking

Press information

For further press information and to request images please contact:

Selma Willcocks, Press contact for aria