A Story of Revolutions, an exhibition by Patrick Altes

Patrick Altes, a French artist born in Algeria explores diaspora and identity within the University of Portsmouth’s School of Languages and Area Studies working with Dr Natalya Vince in a body of work responding to a Leverhulme residency. Themes refer to post colonialism, political manipulation and the dichotomy between oppressors and the oppressed.  The work is celebrated as part of the Being Human festival at the University of Portsmouth.

The exhibition challenges resistance by former settlers and their descendants to accept their role in Algeria and creates a mediated space for a more tolerant and accepting world. Altes, uncomfortable with his ‘pied-noir’ heritage explores the political, economic, social and cultural context of colonialism, culminating in works that include both French and Algerian participants offering multiple perspectives.

Drawing on his own experience of diaspora, Altes explores the ambivalent notion of birth right, and our sometimes shifting and uncomfortable attitudes about belonging, dispossession and migration. Were his passport Algerian, feeling nostalgia from his birth country would be natural; with a French passport, it becomes suspect. Through these images, Altes is able to claim the part of Algerian-ness in him and posit himself technically and emotionally as an African Diaspora artist.

In the words of Altes, “I seek to dissociate personal nostalgia from its political instrumentalisation as well as question the dominant and widely accepted historical and political narrative relating to this period of history. My work offers a thought-provoking and humanistic narrative challenging a dominant pied-noir discourse imbued with distorted myths and political point scoring”.

“My artistic process is a personal attempt to shift perceptions and engage in an open-minded and creative dialogue to acknowledge the wounds of the past, the effects of the Algerian revolution but also the new relationship that is emerging after more than 180 years of strained cohabitation. I want this work to contribute in its own way to a new and long overdue political narrative between France and Algeria”.

The residency allowed Altes to connect with specialists in post colonialism at universities in the UK, France, Algeria, USA, Germany and Australia. Additionally, the project has enhanced cross Faculty links between the School of Media and Performing Arts and the School of Languages and Area Studies, facilitating the exchange of expertise and sharing ideas.

“Additionally, the project offered a rare opportunity to illustrate key themes such as ‘movement and representation’ and ‘belonging and time’ that developed more creative ways of teaching and research” explained Dr Natalya Vince, School of Languages and Area Studies.

The University of Portsmouth are delighted to host Story of Revolutions as part of an international tour, whilst the Portsmouth show is a major part of Being Human, the UK’s first national festival of the humanities (15th to the 23rd November 2014), which will engage people across the UK with innovative research. There will be a public learning programme that accompanies A Story of Revolutions exhibition, with a series of events including a participatory workshop for schools, an ‘in conversation’ panel discussion and a ‘meet the artist’ preview event.

This project is funded by an Artist Residency grant awarded to the University of Portsmouth by the Leverhulme Trust.

The artist would like to thank The Leverhume Trust for making this series of work possible, through its generous support and the University of Portsmouth for its remarkable help and support throughout this residency.

[colored_box variation=”red”] Public talk – 28th October 2014 at 4pm, Eldon North 0.20

Private View – 14th November 2014 from 4-7pm, Space

Exhibition runs from 20th October until 26th November 2014[/colored_box]

To join in the discussion:

View the Being Human festival website here

To view the Being Human festival blog

Follow the latest news about the festival on Twitter @BeingHumanFest #BeingHuman14

Follow the latest news about the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries (CCI) on Twitter @UniPortCCI 

Join the Being Human Facebook page

Join the CCI Facebook page


Eventbrite links to Being Human films:

Hunger (McQueen, 2008) introduced by Dr Graham Spencer

Battle of Algiers (Pontecorvo, 1966) followed by a panel discussion with Patrick Altes, Dr Natalya Vince, Walid Benkhaled, Dr Neelam Srivastava, Prof Martin Evans

Fascism Inc (2014)followed by a Q & A led by Dr Lydia Papadimitriou


About Leverhulme:

The Leverhulme Trust was established by the Will of William Hesketh Lever, the founder of Lever Brothers. Since 1925 the Trust has provided grants and scholarships research and education. Today, it is one of the largest all-subject providers of research funding in the UK, distributing over £60m a year. For more information about the Trust, please visit Leverhulme website.

This exhibition is supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

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