Zoulikha Bouabdellah

Zoulikha Bouabdellah is a French-Algerian artist, working and living in Casablanca, Morocco. Born in Moscow, 1977. She grew up in Algiers and moved to France in 1993. She is a graduate of the Ecole Nationale Superieure d'Arts de Cergy-Pontoise in 2002.


Zoulikha Bouabdellah’s works -through installation, drawing, video and photography- deal with the effects of globalization and question their depictions with humour and subversion. In 2003, she directed the video Let's Dance (Dansons) in which she confuses the archetypes of French and Algerian cultures by performing a belly dance to the tune of the Marseillaise. The same year, her work featured in Experiments in the Arab Avant-garde at the French Cinémathèque (Paris). In 2005, Zoulikha Bouabdellah participated in the seminal exhibition  Africa Remix  at Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), and in 2008 in the festival Paradise Now! Essential Avant-Garde French Cinema 1890-2008 at the Tate Modern (London).

Since 2007, Bouabdellah’s works focus on letters and words of love, and particularly on the status of women. Made with different materials -paper, acrylic, aluminum, neon, wood- her works act as slogans and forge links between North and South, joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, the visible and the untold.

She has exhibited at the Mori Art Museum (Tokyo), the Brooklyn Museum (New York), Museum of Modern Art Ludwig Foundation (Vienna), the Museum Kunst Palast (Düsseldorf), the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Arts (New York), the Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art (Doha) and the Moderna Museet (Stockholm). She has participated in several biennials and festivals including the Venice Biennale (2007), Rencontres de la Photographie Africaine in Bamako (2003), Thessaloniki Biennial (2011), Turin Triennale (2008) and the Aichi Triennale (2010). Her most recent exhibitions include The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists at National Museum of African Art (USA), at the Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main (Germany) and at the Savannah College of Art and Design Museum, Savannah (USA); Body Talk: Feminism, Sexuality & Body at the WIELS (Belgium) and at FRAC Lorraine (France); Lucy’s Iris at the MUSAC (Spain), at Rochechouart Museum (France) and at CAAM Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno (Spain).

On October 2016 the CAAM Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno (Spain) will host a major individual exhibition by Zoulikha Bouabdellah.

Her work is represented in collections such as Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris, France), MUSAC Museum of Contemporary Art (León, Spain), Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art (Doha, Qatar), Museum of Modern Art Ludwig Foundation (Vienna, Austria), and Sindika Dokolo Foundation (Luanda, Angola). She has received awards and distinctions including the Abraaj Art Prize (2009), Meurice Prize for Contemporary Art (2008) and Villa Medicis Hors les Murs (2005).


Today, everybody wants to be able to see everything, preaching transparency on worship, so that each one gets the power to be able to satisfy its need to observe and supervise. Under these conditions, the artist has to resist the will of control and classification. He must manage to deviate from this imposed line and to follow a deviation he/she has wanted. Isn't it the artist who inspires to see things differently?
In this world where images are everywhere, I led a series of works keeping in mind the elements which hide more than they show. It is the deeper sense of my work, which intends to convince that the things are not given to be seen such as they should be, that they evade and escape one way reading. In other words, they invite to transgress the limits.
My approach consists to push forward boundaries, to create interactions between them. My artistic and conceptual concerns lead me to mix in my work several concepts at the same time. In addition to the concept, I avoid to comply with only one method of formal realization. Things must be done and remade willingly to the social and cultural contexts, in accordance with time and space.
How to make it differently when, as information goes around instantaneously from one part of the world to the other, the question of understanding and meaning becomes an important issue: the issue of power and domination?
With regard to my Arab-Muslim origins and the fact of being a woman, I cannot dissociate my work from the question of feminism and cultural belonging. I claim to be a «second sex», a free-thinker sex. The one who knows how to claim and to defy codes and rules of its time and who is constantly balanced between being dominant and being dominated, thus creating a perpetual outlet for new meanings.


Zoulikha Bouabdellah


2002     École nationale supérieure d'arts de Cergy-Pontoise. Paris, France.

Solo shows (selected)


2017     Le Boudoir. French Institute of Casablanca. Morocco.

2016     Inverted. Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain.

2016     Objects de désir. Sabrina Amrani Gallery. Madrid, Spain.

2015     Double truth. Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde. Dubai, UAE.

2014     L'envers et l'endroit. Galerie Anne de Villepoix, Paris, France.

2013     Bizarre. Sabrina Amrani Gallery, Madrid, Spain.

2012     Any Resemblance To Actual Persons Living Or Dead Is Purely Coincidental. Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde, Dubai, UAE.

2011     Mirage. Sabrina Amrani Gallery, Madrid, Spain.

2010     Set me free from my chains. Isabelle van den Eynde Gallery, Dubai, UAE.

2009     Hobb. La B.a.n.k. Paris, France.

2008     Galeria 5213. Berlin, Germany.

2007     Bleu, blanc, rouge… and other colors. La B.a.n.k. Paris, France.

Group shows (selected)


2021    Beyond Belief. Haus Kunst Mitte Berlin. Berlin, Germany.

2021     En diálogo con José Martín. Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno (CAAM), Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain.

2021     BUM BUM BA YE [Under Pressure]. Sabrina Amrani. Madrid, Spain.

2021    DANCE?. Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno (CAAM), Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain.

2021    Breaking the Monument. Centro de Arte Galego de Arte Contemporáneo (CGAC). Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

2020    Línies Vermelles. La Censura en la Col·lecció Tatxo Benet.  Centre d’Art La Panera, Lleida, Spain. Curated by  Cèlia del Diego and Benito Padilla.

2020    Ver Versus Ver II. Sabrina Amrani Gallery. Madrid, Spain.

2020    Ver Versus Ver. Sabrina Amrani Gallery. Madrid, Spain.

2019     Waiting for Omar Gatlato: Contemporary Art from Algeria and its Diaspora. Wallach Art Gallery. New York, USA.

2019     Un instant avant le monde. La Biennale de Rabat. Rabat, Morocco.

2019    A la plume, au pinceau, au crayon: dessins du monde arabe. Institut du Monde Arabe. Paris, France.

2019     Créatrices- L’émancipation par l’art. Musée des beaux-arts de Rennes. Rennes, France.

2019    Simetrías. Colección CAAM. Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno. Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain.

2019    On Danse? Curated by Emilie Girard. Musée des civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée. Marseille, France.

2018     Femitopías: Mujeres, feminismo y cultura visual. Curated by Margarita Aizpuru. Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Rafael Botí. Córdoba, Spain

2018    Sahara: What is Written Will Remain. Curated by: Nicolas Vamvouklis, Alexandra Etienne, Suzanna Petot. Gallerie delle Prigioni. Treviso, Italy

2018    Waste Lands/ Tierras devastadas. Curated by: Piedad Solans. Casa Árabe. Madrid, Spain.

2018     Muchos Caminos. Imágenes contemporáneas del Camino de Santiago. Curated by Manuel Olveira. MUSAC. León, Spain.
2017     Move/Hips don’t lie. Centre Pompidou. Paris, France.
2017     Muchos Caminos. Imágenes contemporáneas del Camino de Santiago. Curated by Manuel Olveira. RAER, Real Academia de España in Rome. Rome, Italy.
2017     Beatutiful Stranger. Bovenverdieping Museum De Wieger. Deurne, The Netherlands.

2017     Qu’avons nous fait de nos rêves? Musée Slaoui. Casablanca, Morocco.

2017     Nilwood Melody – Qu’avons-nous fait de nos rêves? Musée de la Fondation Abderrahman Slaoui. Casablanca, Morocco.

2017     En toute modestie / Archipel Di Rosa. Musée international des arts modestes (MIAM). Sète, France.

2017     El Iris de Lucy. Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain.
2017     Waste Lands. Museo San Telmo. San Sebastián, Spain.
2016     El Iris de Lucy. Musée Departemental D’Art Contemporain. Rochechouart, France.

2016     Waste Lands. Es Baluard. Mallorca, Spain.

2016     Le sein dessin. Galerie VivoEquidem. Paris, France.

2016     Cross-border: Video Works by contemporary female artists from the Middle-East. Pataka Art and Museum. Porirua, New Zealand.

2016     El Iris de Lucy. Curated by Orlando Britto-Jinorio. MUSAC. León, Spain.

2015     Body Talk : féminisme, sexualité et corps dans l’oeuvre de six artistes africaines. Lunds Kuntshal. Lunds, Sweden.
2015     The Divine Comedy – Heaven, Purgatory And Hell Revisited By Contemporary African Artists. National Museum of African Art - Smithsonian Institution. Washington DC, USA.
2015     Body Talk : féminisme, sexualité et corps dans l’oeuvre de six artistes africaines. WIELS - Centrum voor Hedendaagse Kunst. Brussels, Belgium.

2015     All The World’s a Mosque. Ancient theatre of Carthage. Carthage, Tunez.

2015     Arte contemporânea na Coleçao Sindika Dokolo. You Love Me, You Love Me Not. Municipal Gallery Almeida Garrett. Porto, Portugal.

2015     Femina ou la Réappropriation des modeles. Le Pavillon vendôme Centre d’art contemporain. Clichy, France.

2015     Cherchez l’erreur. Institut des Cultures d’Islam. Paris, France.

2014     Memory, Place, Desire: Contemporary Art of the Maghreb and the Maghrebi Diaspora. Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery (CFG) - Haverford College, Haverford, USA.

2014     Music palace. The power of music seen by visual artists. Villa Empain - Boghossian Foundation. Brussels, Belgium.

2014     The Divine Comedy – Heaven, Purgatory And Hell Revisited By Contemporary African Artists. SCADMOA. Savannah, USA.

2014     Sculptures du Sud. Villa Datris - Fondation pour la Sculpture Contemporaine. L´Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, France.

2014     Please rewind! Sabrina Amrani Gallery. Madrid, Spain.

2014     Mil caras. Musée de la Fondation Abderrahman Slaoui. Casablanca, Morocco.

2014     The Divine Comedy – Heaven, Purgatory And Hell Revisited By Contemporary African Artists. Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK). Frankfurt/Main, Germany.

2013     Silk Highway 21C. Yallay Gallery, Hong Kong, SAR.

2013     Cross-border - Künstlerinnen der Gegenwart aus dem arabischen Mittelmeerraum. ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, Germany.

2013     Tomar medidas. OTR espacio de arte. Madrid, España.

2013     Inaugural Opening. Yallay Space. Hong Kong, SAR.

2012     The Progress Of Love. The Menil Collection. Houston, Texas, USA.

2012     Transit_Salvador. MAM - Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia. Salvador, Brazil.

2012     Le Corps découvert. Institut du Monde Arabe. Paris, France.

2012     Horizons croisés. Galerie Ammar Farhat. Sidi Bou Saïd, Tunisia.

2012     Cuerpos. Sabrina Amrani Gallery. Madrid, Spain.

2012     Arrival and departures. Mole Vanvitelliana. Ancona, Italy.

2011     Disquieting muses. Contemporary Art Center of Thessaloniki. Thessaloniki, Greece.

2011     Big brother, l'artiste face aux tyrans. Palais des Arts et du festival. Dinard, France.

2011     Fluxus - African contemporary art. Chiesa Del Santi Carlo E Agata. Reggio Emilia, Italy.

2011     Disquieting Muses. Thessaloniki Centre of Contemporary Art. Thessaloniki, Greece.

2011     Traits d'union, Paris et l'art contemporain arabe. Villa Emerige. Paris, France.

2010     Illuminations (After Arthur Rimbaud). Leila Taghinia-Milani Heller (LTMH) Gallery. New York, USA.

2010     Arts and Cities. Aichi Triennale. Aichi Arts Center, Japan.

2010     Mapping identity. Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery. Haverford College. Haverford. Pennsylvania, USA.

2010     Opening the doors, collecting Middle Eastern Art. Emirates Palace. Abu Dhabi, UAE.

2010     Capturando Rayos De Sol Norteafricano. Centro Parraga. Murcia, Spain.

2010     Reframing Reality: Glimpses into the Lowave video archive. Museet for Samtidskunst / Museum of Contemporary Art. Roskilde, Denmark.

2009     Les Mécaniques amoureuses. Maison Guerlain. Paris, France.

2009     Abraaj Capital Art Prize. Museum of Arts & Design. New York, USA.

2009     Coexistencias, 2nd Architecture. Art and Landscape Biennial of the Canaries. Canaries, Spain.

2009     The other shadow of the city. The Palestinian Art Court-al Hoash. Jerusalem, Palestine.

2009     Perspectives: Women. Co-presented by MoCADA and the Museum for African Art. New York, USA.

2009     The seen and the hidden: (Dis)Covering the veil. Austrian Cultural Forum. New York, USA.

2009     ...Wondering Where the ducks Went... Galleria Tiziana Di Caro. Salerno, Italy.

2008     50 moons of Saturn, Torino Triennale. Italy.

2008     Home?. Galerie des Tourelles. Nanterre, France.

2008     Empire and Its discontents. Tufts University art gallery. Medford, Massachusetts, USA.

2008     The third space: cultural identity today. Mead Art Museum. Amherst College. Amherst, Massachusetts, USA.

2008     L'Art au féminin. Musée d'Art Moderne d'Alger. Algiers, Algeria.

2008     Black-Paris, Black-Bruxelles. Musée d'Ixelles. Ixelles, Belgium.

2007     Global feminisms. Davis Museum and Cultural Center. Boston, USA.

2007     Africa Remix. Contemporary art of a continent. Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG). Johannesburg, South Africa.

2007    TRANS CAPE. Contemporary African art on the move. Cape Africa Platform. Cape Town, South Africa.

2007     52nd Venice Biennial. African Pavilion. Venice, Italy.

2007     Airs de Paris. Centre Georges Pompidou. Paris, France.

2007     Global Feminisms. Brooklyn Museum. New York, USA.

2007     Black Paris. AusstellungsHalle Schulstrabe 1A. Frankfurt/Main, Germany.

2006     Coding: Decoding. Kunsthallen Nikolaj. Copenhagen, Denmark.

2006     SD Observatorio. IVAM, Institut Valencià d’Art Modern. Valencia, Spain.

2006     L'image révélée. Palais Kheireddine, Musée de la ville de Tunis. Tunisia.

2006     Paris Black. Iwalewa-Haus. Bayreuth, Germany.

2006     Africa Remix. Mori Art Museum. Tokyo, Japan.

2006     Why Pictures Now?. Museum Moderner Kunst Stifung Ludwig. Vienna, Austria.

2005     Africa Remix. Centre Georges Pompidou. Paris, France.

2005     Hayward Gallery. London, UK.

2004     Africa Remix. Museum Kunst Palast. Dusseldorf, Germany.

2004     Occident vist des orient. Centro de Cultura Contemporánea de Barcelona. Barcelona, Spain.

2004     Dak'art, VI Biennale d'Art Contemporain Africain. Dakar, Senegal.

2003     Rites sacrés / rites profanes. V Rencontres de la Photographie Africaine. Bamako, Mali.

2002     Dak'art, V Biennale d'Art Contemporain Africain. Dakar, Senegal.


Art Fairs


2019     Feria de Escultura contemporánea Sculto. MUSAC Collection. Logroño, Spain.

2017     Artissima. Sabrina Amrani Gallery. Turin, Italy.

2016     1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair London, Sabrina Amrani. London, UK.

Video festivals

2017     Move/ Hips don´t lie, Centre Georges Pompidou. Paris, France.

2016     Loop Barcelona, Spain.

               Cross- Border: Video works by contemporary artists from the Southern Mediterranean, Pataka, Porirua City, New Zealand.

2011     French experimental Cinema. The Film Society of Lincoln Center. New York, USA.

2010     Cinéma du réel. Centre Georges Pompidou. Paris, France.

2010     E-flux video rental. Fondazione Giuliani per l’arte contemporanea. Rome, Italy.

2008     Paradise now!. Essential French Avant-Garde Cinema, 1890-2008, Tate Modern. London, UK.

2007     New media screenings. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Kansas City, USA.

2007     Carte blanche à Elvan Zabunyan. Centre Georges Pompidou. Paris, France.

2007     Vidéo story, 30ème anniversaire du Centre Georges Pompidou. Paris, France.

2006     Live screen. Saddler's Well. London, UK.

2006     Mam screen. Screening of the video "Dansons" in Tokyo's subway. Tokyo, Japan.

2005     Playing in the light: Black dance film tour. Tate Modern. London, UK.


2009     Art School Palestine. Ramallah, Palestine.

2008     Artist-in-Residence and visiting professor at Amherst College. Massachusetts, USA.

2005     Villa Mèdicis Hors les Murs in Cape Town. Cape Town, South Africa.

Awards and prizes

2009     Abraaj Capital Prize. Dubai, UAE.

2008     Prix Le Meurice pour l'Art Contemporain. Paris, France.

Public collections


Claude & France Lemand- IMA Fund. Institut du Monde Arabe. Paris, France.

Imago Mundi. Luciano Benetton Collection. Gallerie delle Prigioni. Treviso, Italy.

Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno- CAAM. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain.

Musée Départemental d’Art Contemporain de Rochechouart. Rochechouart, France.

MUSAC. León, Spain.
Centre Georges Pompidou. Paris, France.

Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art. Doha, Qatar.

Nadour Collection. Paris, France.

Art in Embassies. Rabat, Morocco.

Museum of Modern Art Ludwig Foundation. Vienna, Austria.

Mead Art Museum. Amherst, USA.

Sindika Dokolo Foundation. Luanda, Angola.

Collection Enrico Navarra. Paris, France.

Espace Croisé. Roubaix, France.

Fondation Frencès. Senlis, France.

Sharjah Art Foundation. UAE.

Barjeel Art Foundation. UAE.

Deutsche Bank. Germany.


Private collections


Col·lecció Tatxo Benet




- Soft Transgression, Zoulikha Bouabdellah, 172 p. Fr/En, Published by Gold Digger, 2010 (978-2-9534431-1-0)

-  ‘Inverted’ , Zoulikha Bouabdellah, including texts by Orlando Britto Jinorio, Driss Ksikes and Katrin Steffen (curator of the exhibition Inverted at CAAM (Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno). Published by CAAM, Feb. 2017

- Zoulikha Bouabdellah, TV monograph, 29’54’’, Dec.2016.


Selected Publications and Articles


- Lumières africaines: L’élan contemporain, by André Magnin, Mehdi Qotbi, 200 pages, Langages du Sud, February 2018 (ISBN13: 978-9954695203)

- Signs of Our Times: From Calligraphy to Calligraffiti, Rose Issa, Juliet Cestar and Venetia Porter, 320 pages, 300 colour illustrations (ISBN: 978-1-8589-4652-8)

- Foreword by Hans Ulrich Obrist

- Transcultural encounters, by Siobhán Shilton, 288 p., en., Manchester University Press, April 2013 (ISBN13: 9780719087103)

- Une artiste face à l'autocensure by Joséphine Bindé. Télérama, January 2015 

- Flores de color avión de guerra by Jaled Abdelrahim Yorokobu, July/August 2011

- Au nom de la subversion... by Fadwa Miadi Afrique Magazine n°299-300 August/September 2010 

- Taking a stand by Claudia Barbieri Childs Canvas volume 6 Issue 3 May/June 2010

- Belly Dancing to the Marseillaise: Zoulikha Bouabdellah's Dansons, by Siobhán Shilton, Pages 437-444, in Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, Volume 12, 2008 - Issue 4: French Exception II - Sep 2010