Reconstructions, 2016

Courtesy the artist and Galerie Krinzinge. Photo: Axel Schneider | MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst

Canvas, broken mirror, ebony, and Dogon mask

For the French-Algerian artist Kader Attia, “the traumas resulting from the worst moments in history […] have left lasting material and immaterial scars which, like a phantom limb of an amputated part of the body, are still there. They demand reparation.” Attia is talking about the legacies of colonialism, which have left open wounds in the flesh, in memory, and in objects. In the sculpture Untitled, a once-broken plate is displayed on a metal stand. The ceramic shards have been reassembled, but the resin used to fix it is intentionally left visible. Rather than attempting to erase the signs of past violence and damage, Attia presents the object in its multi-temporality, simultaneously confronting the viewer with its state before the fracture and the signs of its repair. In Reconstructions, a broken mirror and an animal Dogon mask from Mali are juxtaposed on a painted canvas. The Dogon mask, horizontally suspended at the bottom of the canvas, projects a long shadow when lit at an angle. By complicating the appearance of the mask and using fragments of a mirror, Attia experiments with ways of displaying and visually restituting the living aspect of the ritual object. 

Showing the wounds means acknowledging the wrongdoings and attending to the empowering work of repair, reclamation, and restitution against the longstanding indifference of states and institutions. Reparation becomes a form of intervention that aims to restore the conditions in which individuals and their worlds reassert their presence. 


Group show: Remedios
Venue: C3A Centro de Creación Contemporánea de Andalucía, Córdoba
Curator: Daniela Zyman
Exhibition 14 April 2023 -  March 2024

Born in Seine-Saint-Denis, France, in 1970. Lives in Berlin, Germany, and Paris, France.