REINA AT HOME

My mother is strong and fearful at the same time. I always thought that her fears and strengths came from the same period, a humble childhood under the sun of Oran, Algeria, happy and hard at the same time. 8 of her first 10 years of life were accompanied by a conflict that turned into a war.

What are the images that still live in her head? How many of them are mixed with our present? Which of these images live on in me, even though I was born in another country? Which of these images do we need today to think about the future, her, mine and our societies on both sides of the Mediterranean?

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"YOU WERE HERE"

An old picture of my mother house ( on the left) in the spanish and popular neighborhood of Orán, called Echkmul, close to the " plaza de toros". The house desapeared today.

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SEARCHING FOR ORAN

There is a very special hour in Buenos Aires, Argentina, of the post-rainy afternoons where the light and the old walls on the terrace of my building is an escape door, temporal and geographic. A light I imagine similar as the one my mother experienced in her childhood in Oran,Algeria.

How can I love Algeria today?How can a french born girl should/ could love Algeria today? What can we imagine together, those who like me, are part of the “ generation after”.

What is my relationship to this past, where can I stand today and tomorrow? If I’m sure that colonialism, old or new is not part of my thoughts, I wonder how much it has been part of my culture, of what and how I learn to move, live and feel?

While I ask myself this and much more, I keep imagining, dreaming of a possible trip to Algeria even if I don't have my answers ready. This trip starts on my terrace. 

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HISTORY/STORY

Overlay of an old colonial map showing Algeria as a part of the French territory with a mental map , drawn by Reina, my mother about her memories of the neighborhood where she grew up in Oran and the war.

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"GOING TO SCHOOL, I SAW SOMETHING SIMILAR"

Portrait of Reina in France, 2019 and Collage of a photography of Reina, took on her autorization by French government to leave Algeria as a children, few days before the Independence. It's attached to a google image she sent me from her research when she was trying to explain what she saw one day in her street during the war. The sentence in french, the one she sent me with the picture says : It's something like this but covered by newspapers than I saw. October 2019.

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1962. THE END.

1962 is the end of the war in Algeria and the year of the Independance, but not the end of violence and massacres. Few days after my family left, a massacre happened in their city. I took this picture in a slum in Buenos Aires where I was working. The appearance of this date and bloodstain-like paint stains froze me and are part of these flashbacks I’m working on. Buenos AIres, 2020

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Our memories are an explosion of colors and blurry moments

“a sleepwalking and frenetic city”.Albert Camus about Orán.

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WHO AM I?

Self-portrait in Buenos Aires and collage with extracts from the naturalization certificate of my grand-fathers ( born in Spain) and my mother ( born in Algeria). One day, I started to question the identity I had built up throughout my french childhood. I discovered a more complex one behind my white skin which allowed me to be the “ideal french girl” during my youth in a popular and diverse Parisian suburb. 

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WHO ARE YOU?

View of a photo archive of my mother dressed as a traditional spanish woman, shot in my Buenos Aires’ house. October 2019.

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SPANISH BLOOD

Collage of the last spanish passport of my mother before becoming french (1972) with a photo of me, 5 years old with the traditional spanish dress, sent by the spanish family for Christmas in France. 1990

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