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Highlighting the Work of, Nicene Kossentini, Photographer

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Nicène Kossentini is a photographer and filmmaker who was born in Tunis, Tunisia in 1976. She studied at the Sorbonne University in Paris, France. During the first edition of the International Digital Media in France, she was interned at the Studio National des Arts Contemporains Le Fresnoy and at l’École de l’Image Les Gobelins. Kossentini explores the relationships between the past and the present, the private and the public, and peace and enmity. By engaging with the history of culture and conflict in her native Tunisia, she creates work that references hopelessness and defiance which are universal themes that transcend time and place. Currently, she is assistant professor of experimental cinema at the University of Tunis. She lives and works in Tunis and Paris.

Her work is an invitation to enter into a symbiosis with an uncertain and intimate living space. She creates singular atmospheres with minimalist escenographies, highlighting contrast in black and white and semi visible areas. Her work captures images and faces about to disappear from the page hypnotising the viewer’s look that is sustained in wait for a pending event. The deliberate slow movement of the camera restores the phenomenological dimension of time to better suggest the sensation of becoming a strangely enigmatic place. In her They abused her series she addresses concerns of oppression by using the same faceless woman repeatedly across many photos. There are also numerous allusions to resistance and hope in her work.

Image courtesy of Artsy 2012 Fine art print on diasec 75 x 600 cm

Another series of hers titled Boujmal fuses images of a Tunisian lake with portraits of Kossentini, her mother, and her grandmother. All three women maintain their courage in the face of rising water. This way her work addresses concerns of Tunisian society which have to live with a memory that tends to freeze, to flatten and become lost. She documents the gradual alteration of people and objects, revealing private spaces and bodies, picture by picture.

Image courtesy of Artsy 2011 Silver gelatine print 90 x 90 cm

Kossentini’s solo shows include the Memorising exhibition at the Sabrina Armani Gallery in Madrid, Spain. Additionally, she did I remember the recommendation of the President at the Selma Feriani Gallery in Tunis. Her group shows include the Long Story Short exhibition at Sabrina Amrani in Madrid and the Au-delà des apparences exhibition at the Les Abbatoirs in Toulouse, France. Her work is present in The British Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in Tunis.


Lelethu Sobekwa was born in Gqeberha, South Africa. She holds a BA Honours in English and an MA in Creative Writing with distinction from Rhodes University. Lelethu currently writes for Art News Africa.

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