Photography: “Cédrine Scheidig’s portraits are a study of home and belonging”

[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.] Lydia Figes (Dazed) reviews the work of Cédrine Scheidig, whose exhibition, “de la mer à la terre,” will be on view from February 1 to March 26, 2023, at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie (5/7 rue de Fourcy) in Paris, France.

In his seminal book Poétique de la Relation (Poetics of Relation), the revered Martinique writer, philosopher and critic Édouard Glissant argued that poetics – whether expressed through art or literature – has a political and aesthetic function. His writings directly inspire the work of the 28-year-old French Caribbean photographer Cédrine Scheidig, the winner of the Dior Prize for Photography 2021. Her upcoming solo presentation, de la mer à la terre (Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris), contemplates the complex identity of the Black diaspora.

Bringing together two recent bodies of work – It is a Blessing to be the Color of Earth (2020), and Les mornes, le feu (The dunes, the fire) (2022) – her new exhibition proposes a dialogue between two geographical locations: the Parisian suburbs and the French overseas territory of Martinique. A reflection of her dual identity, Scheidig’s work celebrates the youth culture of today’s globally scattered Afro-Caribbean communities. But by doing so, she also challenges the medium of photography itself: “My work is about capturing the lighter, more poetic representations of the Black diaspora, rather than portraying those communities amongst suffering, which has so often been the case in the history of photography.”

Born in Bobigny, a banlieue [or suburb] in northeast Paris, Scheidig’s mixed heritage was shared by most people from her community, many of whom also had relatives who emigrated to France from French overseas territories in the Caribbean during the Windrush era. “For us, ‘home’ isn’t strictly Paris, or France, or the Caribbean – the banlieue has its own identity and culture, almost like a third island.” The idea of the third island – or third space – in postcolonial thought refers to the notion of hybridity, which in layman’s terms means a transcultural space – geographical, cultural or linguistic – that is inextricably tied to the histories of colonialism. In this in-between space, there is also resistance against the prevailing systems of power. Scheidig tells Dazed, “My exploration of Caribbean spaces is a way to explore territories of hybridity – neither French or completely independent from French culture and history.” 

Expanding upon this idea, the title of Scheidig’s show De La Mer À Terre (Of the Sea and Earth) evokes transatlantic connections between multiple sites and cultures; the interrelation between French overseas territories in the Caribbean such as Martinique and Guadeloupe (where her father is from), to diverse European cities such as Paris, and even to Africa – the ancestral root. “I’ve always been told I’m French, but that doesn’t mean I identify with that culture in a practical sense,” she admits – and her work is an exploration of that ambivalence.

Adopting an intuitive approach, Scheidig prefers to work slowly. She builds up her portfolio as a creative durational process that is inseparable to the meaning of her final images. “I like to revisit places and people over long stretches of time. It allows me to become more sensitive to that environment, and that’s when my photographs become stronger.” She creates and carefully selects shots that are imbued with a delicate yet broader gaze, “capturing an overall sense of place.” [. . .]

For full article and photos of Scheidig’s work, see

The exhibition:
de la mer à la terre
Cédrine Scheidig
February 1 – March 26, 2023
Maison Européenne de la Photographie, 5/7 Rue de Fourcy, 75004 Paris  (in French)

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