Ya l’ghayeb, fragments of a silent story

In 2010, in Berlin, I met Feriel Benjama, a young Algerian-German artist. I made her portrait, the starting point of which is a long audio interview about her migration story between Algeria and Germany. From what she confides in me about her story, I make a series of analog color photographs echoing the fragments of her life. I also shot a Super 8 sequence with her, poetically evoking what remains unspeakable, too intimate because too painful, of her story. In the exhibition space, the photographs ( handprinted in an associative laboratory), the super 8 film, the continuous projection of a slide, a text evoking my research around her story in connection with the humiliating and tragic dimension of the German asylum policy, and a sound installation with wireless headphones allowing the visitors to hear fragments of the interview.


Here are some excerpts transcribed and translated into French:

"Algeria was like a ghost, which accompanied me throughout my youth. It was a memory and at the same time the future, because I wanted to go back!

Later, when I had already arrived in Germany, I constantly dreamed of Sidi Mezghich. Thanks to my inner eye, I walked through the streets, I dreamed of the places where I had lived, and every year I dreamed that I would return there. My grandmother still lived there, she had been like a mother to me, a role she had assumed entirely. It wasn't easy.


Was this separation difficult for you?

Yes, it was very hard because in Germany, when I went to school, first in 88 for a short period, I felt like a stranger, especially because of the language barrier. I had to learn the language first, I felt really excluded. And I found it strange, I didn't understand because in Algeria I didn't have any problems, I played with everybody, while in Germany I was rejected."