Artist Spotlight: Kader Attia


In light of his solo exhibition at the Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK) in Frankfurt, we dedicate a spotlight to Kader Attia.

Kader Attia, The Repair, 2012

Kader Attia grew up between Algeria and the suburbs of Paris, between the Islamic Maghreb and the Christian Occident. His experience of living in these different cultural milieu is the starting point for his artistic inspiration and practice. Attia’s photographs, videos and large-scale installations explore the impact of Western cultural hegemony and colonialism on non-Western cultures through a poetic and symbolic approach. Kader explains: "As Edward Said demonstrated in Orientalism, the West has “orientalized” the East in order to control it. By emphasizing the idea that “progress” should be a synonym for “today” or “tomorrow,” but never of “yesterday,” the West has excluded tradition from their lives and cultures of non-Western peoples."

Kader researches the identity politics of colonialism and modern times, delving into the concept of 'Repair' or 'Reappropriation'. The use of the word 'Reappropriation' arose in France during the second half of the 19th century among anarchist thinkers such as Proudhon and Fourier, whose agenda was to redefine the concept of property and shift it from the single owner to the community as a whole. 

Attia's interpretation of 'Repair' is much broader than his predecessors. To his understanding, 'Repair' is a constant of human nature, an endless exercise of exchange among cultures. His objective is not to reconcile cultural differences but increase our awareness of plurality. Only through the acknowledgment by the Western world of their past and present 'dispossession' politics, non-Western societies will take back their liberties. 

Kader Attia, from the left: Mirror Mask, 2014; Untitled (Collage en Volume), 2014

Attia is well represented in the Tiroche DeLeon Collection. Of particular importance is “The Repair”. Originally shown at dOCUMENTA 13 in Kassel in 2012 and then at the KW Institute in Berlin in 2013, this diptych projection of 80 slides is without doubt a masterpiece by the artist. We own AP1 from the edition of 3+2AP. The 3 works of the edition are at the Mathaf Museum in Doha, Qatar (with the Documenta installation); The Margulies Foundation in Miami and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.The artist retains AP2. 

We also own a mirror mask work related to ‘The Repair’ and very recently we acquired a third work ‘Untitled (Collage en Volume)’ made of a ready-made motorcycle part Attia collected in Algeria. Appropriated and turned around, it is now reminiscent of an African mask. Bearing witness of modern times, it includes a number marking left by its previous owner - ‘56198’ - which can also be read as 'Serge'… it was destined !

Attia’s debut solo exhibition was held in 1996 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and since then his artistic career has gained major international recognition with exhibitions all over the world. Important solos exhibitions were held at the Musée Cantonal des Beaux Arts de Lausanne; the Middelheim Museum, Antwerp; Beirut Art Center; Whitechapel Gallery, London; KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Group shows include the Biennale of Dakar; dOCUMENTA 13 in Kassel; ‘Performing Histories (1)’ at MoMA, New York; and ‘Contested Terrains’ at Tate Modern, London.

His new body of work will be exhibited in a solo show 'Sacrifice and Harmony' at the Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK) in Frankfurt (April 16th- August 14th, 2016). For more information about the exhibition click here.

Attia lives and works in Paris and Berlin and is represented by Lehmann Maupin, Galleria Continua, Galerie Krinzinger, Galerie Nagel Draxler and Gallery Hans Mayer.