Héla Amar - Tunisia

Musée National du Mali

In Arabic, Tarz means embroidery. This is the title that Héla Ammar has given to her photography in- stallation. The piece is comprised of 25 black-and white images that she has assembled using archival elements and photographs that she took in Tunis over the past four years.

The artist, who takes a particular interest in both political issues and questions regarding the condition of women, artificially ages the more recent photographs so they have the same tint as the documents retrieved from the archives. As a result, it is possible to confuse the two sets of images.

Each image testifies to an important episode in the history of Tunisia, but taken in isolation they don’t necessarily have a connection. Nonetheless, whether they date from the 1930s or the present, these photographs bear witness to foundational moments for the Tunisian nation. Thus, we can find scattered among the images elements that document the women’s rights movement, the changing politics, or the work done to modernize the country. Embroidery done in red silk, the color of the Tunisian flag, punctuates the collection of documents and connects them together visually as if to evoke the choices and omissions involved in the construction of a national memory. With this needlework, Héla Ammar attempts to weave together time and create points of intersection between events.

The artist presents history as piecemeal, fragment- ed and incomplete, something dependent on the succession of political regimes, and thus raises the question of how to recount a history in progress. With this approach, Ammar’s work aspires to be- come a tentative reconstruction of “a shattered collective memory.”

Born in 1969 in Tunis, Tunisia – Lives in Tunis

Institut Français
Ministère de la Culture de l’Artisanat et du Tourisme du Mali