MOUNA JEMAL SIALA: O-TON

GENDER EQUALITY LAB
Erwin-Piscator-Haus
3. – 4. JUN 2022

MOUNA JEMAL SIALA ARTWORK
Rudolphsplatz
AUG 2022

PERSPEKTIVWECHSEL | PROJEKT | PROFIL | REPORTING FROM SFAX ON CONTEMPORARY ART

Bettina Palz interviewed Tunisian artist Mouna Jemal Siala while preparing for her site-specific project at the Rudolphsplatz. They talked about the contemporary art scene in Tunisia, gender equity in the arts, and future cooperations between Sfax and Marburg. Published on 23 May 2022.

How would you describe the contemporary art scene in Tunisia?

The contemporary scene in Tunisia is quite rich but very fragmented, it is abundant but anarchic1Read more >>.

Is there a difference between the professional situation of male and female artists?

A difference between the professional situation of male and female artists, not really! I would say it is difficult for both! And in general, it is difficult to be an artist … But it seems that women are more committed to the profession of being an artist and take more of a risk from the beginning. But to make it in the arts, you need to stand the struggle.

Are there any programs to support research and production, display, and debate on female artists in the country?

Not to my knowledge, here in Tunisia! There is no program to support particularly women artists.

In Tunisia we find a lot of women teaching in the art academies and the creative disciplines, by chance do know how many male, and how many female artists are teaching at the art academy in Tunis?

Yes, women are much more numerous than men in the teaching sector of arts in our institutes (3/4-1/4). However, this is not specific to art, but rather to the teaching profession in general and has been for a long time.

You are one of them, why is there such a high number of women engaged in artistic practice and academic teaching?

Unfortunately, I think that men do not consider the profession of the artist as a real profession! Therefore, there are few of them, but fortunately, most of them are of high quality. What is a bit frustrating, is that they easily surpass women … I admit. Perhaps women are more willing to share and pass on!

You contributed three motifs to the postcard series by Sfaxian artists published by the City of Marburg on the occasion of the GENDER EQUALITY LAB: ‘La dame de Carthage’ (2021), ‘Halima ma Joconde’ (2019), and ‘Le regard de Halima’ (2019). What led to these choices?

The three images that I choose result from different projects, but they all present the image of the woman behind the veil, partly hiding women and partly allowing to show. While ‘Halima’ stands for the women of the present generations, the ‘Lady of Carthage’ represents Tunisian women of the past, because the fight is not won.

Two of them result from a project in the south, the SEE DJERBA International Media Biennial. You were working in public space _ how did the audience respond to the public artwork, especially in the south of Tunisia where there are not so many contemporary art activities?

Indeed, two of the three images were taken during the SEE DJERBA project. I enjoyed working in the urban space and seeing the public interacting perfectly with the work both day and night.

Mouna Jemal Siala - SEE DJERBA Houmt Souk 2019 - Mouna Jemal Siala (29)
Mouna Jemal Siala - SEE DJERBA Houmt Souk 2019 - Mouna Jemal Siala (45)
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Mouna Jemal Siala - SEE DJERBA Houmt Souk 2019 - Mouna Jemal Siala (14)
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Mouna Jemal Siala - SEE DJERBA Houmt Souk 2019 - Mouna Jemal Siala (34)
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Mouna Jemal Siala. SEE DJERBA Houmt Souk 2019. Mouna Jemal Siala
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Mouna Jemal Siala. SEE DJERBA Houmt Souk 2019. Photos: Mouna Jemal Siala.

We would like to strengthen the links between the twin cities. If you could propose a future art project including exchange and networking between Marburg and Sfax, what would be great to do?

The best thing to strengthen the links between the twin cities is culture, for sure! An artistic event at the ‘Place Marburg’ in Sfax with tandems of artists, one from Sfax one from Marburg, and similarly, at the Rudolphsplatz in Marburg would be a good idea. Especially in situ works by German and Tunisian artists, public art projects reach a general audience as we can see in projects like DERAM CITY and INTERFERENCE in Tunis, SEE DJERBJA in Houmt-Souk, and UTOPIES VISUELLES in Sousse.