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.