Against Nostalgia
2023, Photo Series of nine photographs, C-print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag Baryta, 60 x 40 cm each.

[ The “entrance” to the exhibition probably looks familiar: the postcard motif of a landscape with palm trees, greatly enlarged and affixed to the wall like wallpaper. The large image refers to the fashion for exoticizing interiors, which can presumably be traced back to the early colonial era and also pops up again and again today.

Here, however, the motif is not merely a backdrop but frames the first photograph in Huda Takriti’s series Against Nostalgia. In nine photographs, the artist processes a collection of postcards with “orientalist” views of Algeria, which she found in the course of her research and bought at auction on eBay. They are indications of a postcolonial nostalgia for the colonial era, as traded on Instagram and through the Facebook accounts of the Pieds-Noirs, the former French settlers in Algeria, many of whom went back to France after the country’s declaration of independence. Depictions of the “former homeland”—sometimes with nostalgic titles such as “Scenes from the Orient” or “Back to Algeria”—alternate with exoticizing and sexualized depictions of women, recreated in photo studios to fit the white, European fantasies of the colonialists.

Translated into the photo series, these postcards become part of an imaginary archive. In the images, the hands of the archivist in the white gloves can be seen covering parts of the postcards. They build a visual barrier between the subject and the camera/viewer to make accessibility difficult and to raise questions concerning the viewer’s gaze and intentions. How can a colonial, exploitative gaze precisely not be duplicated by exhibiting the motif? At the same time, the white gloves are the prominent signature of the archive, signaling the neat storage of individual pieces and their importance for collective memory. But are they really? Here, they remain signs of a performance of archival activity, because almost all the archives that Takriti would actually need for this research are basically inaccessible to her—due to visa restrictions, copyright issues, or due to a colonial past that the institutions of the present still do not know how to deal with. Thus, the artist performs the function of archiving through this alphabet of gestures of hands that spread, show, and cover at the same time… ]*

*Extract from Claudia Slanar’s text «Between Memory and Opacity: (Post)colonial Archives and Mediated Images».

Against Nostalgia, C-print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag Baryta,Installation View @Crone Gallery Wien, Photo©Simon Veres, 2023