Sidera, Zineb (1963–)

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Sidera, Zineb

A London-based multimedia artist, Zineb Sidera is of Algerian origin.


Sidera was born in a suburb of Paris, France, in 1963 to Algerian immigrant parents. She later moved to Britain and trained at the Slade School of Art, the Central Saint Martin's School of Art, and the Royal College of Art. Sidera currently is based in London.


Sidera's video installations and photographic work center on displacement and exile; they draw on her own experience of being born in France to immigrant Algerian parents and moving to Britain. Women, the veil, the gaze, and memory are some of the themes that emerge in her artistic exploration of the shifting subject positions that are part of the immigrant and exile experience, especially among Muslim and Arab women living in the West. Similar to many other artists from Arab countries living in exile, Sidera is particularly concerned with capturing the personal and political paradoxes and contradictions of living within and between cultures and finds the veil a useful way to do so. In many of her works, she examines the ways in which veiling has carried multiple meanings—from the history and legacy of the Algerian encounter with French colonialism to its place within individual and family life.

Sidera also explores what she has called the veiling of the mind—the process of censorship and self-censorship within individuals and societies. Through photographs of herself veiled and veiling, or photographs of her own gaze (marked off by obscuring the edges of the work as if it were being seen by a veiled viewer), she challenges stereotypes of the submissive veiled woman while at the same time showing how the veil becomes a sign of backwardness and a vehicle of submission. The ambiguous meanings of visible and invisible veiling are a metaphor for her own restless experience of migration and exile, and for the complicated questions she has encountered therein.

Some of her recent works include Don't Do to Her What You Did to Me (1998–2001), Retelling Histories: My Mother Told Me … (2003), And The Road Goes On (2005), and Saphir (2006).


Zineb Sidera is still establishing herself and her reputation. Her first major exhibition in London took place in 2006.


Zineb Sidera is still active, and it thus is too early to assess her legacy.


Name: Zineb Sidera

Birth: 1963, near Paris, France

Nationality: French, of Algerian origin

Education: Slade School of Art, London; the Central Saint Martin's School of Art and Design, London; and the Royal College of Art, London


  • 2001: Completes Don't Do to Her What You Did to Me
  • 2003: Retelling Histories: My Mother Told Me …
  • 2005: And The Road Goes On
  • 2006: Saphir


Lloyd, Fran, ed. Contemporary Arab Women's Art: Dialogues of the Present. London: WAL, 1999.

Lloyd, Fran, ed. Displacement and Difference: Contemporary Arab Visual Culture in the Diaspora. London: Saffron Books, 2001.

                                                Jessica Winegar

                           updated by Michael R. Fischbach