The New Yorker
Goings on About Town
The French-Algerian artist, who lives in Paris and Berlin, presents a labyrinth of office cubicles in the now terribly pertinent installation “Reason’s Oxymorons,” from 2015. Each compact unit is outfitted with a desk, a chair, and one of eighteen video works, for which the artist interviewed African and European researchers, theorists, and clinicians about mental health and healing in the context of neocolonialism, civil war, and mass displacement. (A floor plan identifies broad topics, such as “Exile,” “Genocide,” “Language,” and “The Magical Sciences.”) Attia’s cross-cultural experts are, by turns, enlightening and inscrutable, delivering both heartbreaking information and cold analysis about their refugee patients or ethnographic studies. Watching them while seated at a nondescript desk, you become a kind of case worker yourself, tasked with assimilating the acute emotional consequences of our cresting geopolitical crises.