May 23, 2013


Kader Attia

(born 1970 in Dugny/Seine-Saint-Denis)

Kader Attia was born in 1970 into an Algerian family in the Parisian suburb Seine-Saint-Denis. He studied at the École Supérieure in Paris, spending a year at Barcelona's Escola de Artes Applicades.

Using his own identity that has been defined by several cultures as the starting point, he tackles the increasingly difficult relationship between Europe and immigrants, particularly those of Islamic faith. In doing so he does not allow himself to be tied down to one specific medium. His photographic work and films portray the smouldering conflicts arising from the history of French colonialisation and are characterised by exceptional attention to detail. The allegorical minimalism of his sculptures and installations on the other hand is frequently unsettling owing to the discord between their external sensory appeal and their controversial content. He then builds installations questioning the viewer about his fantasies and phobias.

In Ghost, a large installation of a group of Muslim women in prayer, Attia renders their bodies as vacant shells, empty hoods devoid of personhood or spirit. Made from tin foil - a domestic, throw away material - Attia’s figures become alien and futuristic, synthesising the abject and divine. Bowing in shimmering meditation, their ritual is equally seductive and hollow, questioning modern ideologies - from religion to nationalism and consumerism - in relation to individual identity, social perception, devotion and exclusion. Attia’s Ghost evokes contemplation of the human condition as vulnerable and mortal; his impoverished materials suggest alternative histories or understandings of the world, manifest in individual and temporal experience.


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