Internationally acclaimed French-Algerian artist Kader Attia, known for provocative exhibitions exploring colonial legacies, will unveil a solo exhibition of new work commissioned by Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art.
“Kader Attia: Reflecting Memory” will run Jan. 21 to April 16 at the Block Museum on the Northwestern University campus.
Mr. Attia is internationally recognized for a rigorous, research-based practice that he translates through a variety of media including photography, sculpture, installation, and video.
His work frequently reflects on the wide-ranging effects of colonialism, the repercussions of Western power on non-Western cultures and the physical and psychological impact of trauma and its aftermath, which he examines as a kind of “repair.”
Based in part on the artist’s research in the collections of Northwestern University’s Herskovits Library of African Studies and interviews with University faculty across disciplines, Mr. Attia’s Block installation features collage, sculpture and an extended film-essay.
“We have been honored to host Attia here at Northwestern University as he has created his new work. He has drawn extensively on the University’s ‘brain trust’– its faculty, its students, the Block team and the world-renowned Herskovits Library,” said Lisa Corrin, the Museum’s Ellen Philips Katz Director. “His research has uncovered unexpected connections, enabling us to consider traumas of the past that remain urgently relevant.”
Mr. Attia grew up moving between Algeria and the suburbs of Paris and used this experience of living within two cultures to develop a dynamic practice that confronts identity and cultural difference.
In his Block Museum installation, Mr. Attia will expand on his long-term exploration of repair, both of the body and of society, and will probe the legacies of colonialism, slavery, and xenophobia.
Among its themes, the installation considers the “phantom limb” phenomenon, in which an amputee feels as if pain is emanating from a missing limb.
In varying ways, the works draw parallels between this neurological sensation and traumatic historical memories that are passed on from generation to generation.
Among the works on display will be the extended film-essay “Réfléchir la Mémoire, (Reflecting on Memory),” which was informed in part by Mr. Attia’s research at Northwestern and which recently premiered at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris as part of the Marcel DuChamp Prix exhibition.