Exploring ideas of cultural exchange, appropriation and the tangled relationship between extra-Occidental cultures and the West in the wake of decolonisation, ACCA presents a major new survey exhibition encompassing over a decade of French-Algerian artist Kader Attia’s genre-defying practice.
Working across diverse media, including collage, photography, sculpture and video, are enlisted to make manifest these daring enquiries into cultural memory and the repercussions of global events, while the grand scale at which Attia often works is equal to the enormity of the questions he asks.
History and culture, architecture and the body represent constant threads throughout Attia’s art. Absence and the void are further themes within Attia’s practice. Ghost 2007 comprises an installation of empty aluminium-foil casts of seated Muslim women in prayer.
In Asesinos! Asesinos! 2014 (pictured) over 100 doors are reconfigured in a vast, upright formation, recalling bodies that surge forward as a crowd in protest – a sensation enhanced by the work’s title (Murderers! Murderers!) and the megaphones that they carry.
His 2013 installation, The Construction of Fear: A Culture of Evil extends the theme of injury and response through interlocking steel shelves that suggest an archive or library. Late 19th and 20th century books and newspapers extend the colonial gaze into the present through their depiction of European encounters with a non-Western, uncivilized ‘other’.
Attia began his career working in the Congo, an African region deeply affected by decades of war and trauma. Assisting teachers and aid workers, he also developed his own private body of photography there. On his return to France, he continued to build his art practice while working with activist groups that supported migrant communities, including displaced Algerian transvestites who faced persecution in their home country.
Last year’s recipient of France’s most prestigious art award, Le Prix Marcel Duchamp, French-Algerian artist proposes that the more we understand of our history, the better we can participate in society.
Presented in association with Melbourne Festival and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (Sydney), and curated by MCA Chief Curator Rachel Kent, this major new survey of Kader Attia’s work is the first to be shown in the Southern hemisphere.
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, 111 Sturt Street, Southbank
Exhibition: 30 September – 19 November 2017
For more information, visit: acca.melbourne for details.
Image: Kader Attia, Asesinos! Asesinos! 2014, installation view – Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne 2015. Vehbi Koç Foundation Collection, Istanbul. Courtesy the artist, Galerie Nagel Draxler, Berlin/Cologne and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong © the artist.