Nadja Makhlouf is a French-Algerian photographer and video film maker. Her work specifically addresses key questions of the role of memory, history and social change in respect to the place women in Algerian society.
She is presently working on a three-part project on the contemporary status of women in Algeria, each comprised of a photographic exhibition and a documentary film.
The first part of the project explores Kabyle women in today's Algeria where the film Allah Ghaleb (It Is What It Is) portrays the intimate day-to-day lives of these women. The film won the Audience Award at the festival Look at the World Cinema in Rouen, France, 2012. The third part examines Touareg women in the desert in Algeria, assessing their particular power as women within a matriarchal society. While the middle part, the focus of this on-line exhibition El Moudjahidate: Invisible to Visible - The Role and Memory of Women Anti-Colonial Resistance Fighters in Algeria, recovers the role of female fighters in the Algerian War of Liberation 1954- 1962.
As soldiers, nurses, secretaries, doctors, and bomb-carriers the women portrayed here – mostly Muslim but also Jewish, Christian and atheist – all
played a decisive role in the liberation of Algeria. All endured some form of colonial violence, either through torture, imprisonment or the loss of close family and friends. All, too, fought on two fronts, not just against colonialism but also anti-female prejudice from men on their own side.
Almost sixty years separates the photograph from the War of Liberation on the left with the contemporary portrait photograph on the right and through these diptychs Nadja Makhlouf confronts the Algerian past with the Algerian present in a subtle and open-ended manner. She produces a montage effect that poses questions, inviting us to reflect upon female lives and hopes in the then, the now and the unwritten future.
In tandem with this exhibition work on Algerian women, Nadja Makhlouf is also working on a project entitled I am a feminist and I am Muslim. This explores the lives of women in France, Britain and USA.
In this way Nadja Makhlouf uses photography and video to challenge stereotypes of the ‘Arab woman’. Working with women, her collaborative visual practice renders complex female Muslim lives visible.
Note: Some of the women were happy to share their date and place of birth. Others were not.