French photographer Bruno Boudjelal explores the intricate links between personal identity, national identity and cultural memory. In his latest series, Boudjelal reflects upon the life of Martinique born French-Algerian psychiatrist, philosopher, revolutionary and writer, Frantz Fanon. Created and exhibited at a time when Algeria is celebrating its 50th birthday, Boudjelal’s images consider the philosopher’s relationship with the country and his position as a key post-colonial thinker.
Autograph ABP, London, showcases an installation of 23 photographs that highlight the artist’s search for traces of the past and the imprint of memory. Boudjelal leads both himself and the viewer on a historical journey through Fanon’s transatlantic life with a sequence of fleeting images, shadowy figures and ghost-like apparitions. The photographer’s visual expedition takes him south of Algiers to Blida, where Fanon worked as a psychiatrist in a hospital at the time of the Algerian revolution during the 1950s; to Fort de France, Fanon’s birthplace in the Caribbean; to Tunis, Tunisia, where he lived at the end of his life; and to Aïn Kerma village in eastern Algeria where he is buried.
The resulting exhibition portrays a reflective, personal voyage through haunted landscapes imbued with a sense of post-colonial melancholia and disquiet: one that echoes Fanon’s own existentialist journeys in a world scarred by violence. Boudjelal’s enigmatic images are presented together with text excerpts from Fanon’s seminal books, Black Skin, White Mask (1952) and The Wretched of the Earth (1961).
Born in Montreuil, on the outskirts of Paris and of Algerian ancestry, Boudjelal’s work focuses on his relationship with his father, and through that, with Algeria as a whole. His books Disquiet Days and Vanishing Into Reality were published in 2009 and 2015 by Autograph ABP, the latter in association with le Bec en l’Air Éditions, Marseille.
Bruno Boudjelal, Frantz Fanon, until 5 December, Autograph ABP, Rivington Place, London.
Further information can be found at www.autograph-abp.co.uk.
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1. Bruno Boudjelal, Blida’s hospital where Frantz Fanon worked, Algeria, 2011. Courtesy of the artist and Autograph ABP.