Kader Attia (b. 1970, Dugny, France; lives and works in Berlin and Paris) grew up in Algeria and the suburbs of Paris. Drawing from his experience of living within two disparate cultures, he has developed a dynamic practice that examines the intricacies of social, historical, and cultural differences across the globe. Attia’s installations and sculptures offer a poetic yet highly explicit reading of the relationships between Western and non-Western cultures. Through complex investigations of architecture, the human body, literature, and history, Attia demonstrates how individual and cultural identity is constructed within the context of colonial domination and conflict. Using artifacts, discarded quotidian objects, and wartime ephemera, Attia transforms the space of a gallery into one of introspection, allowing the viewer to become aware of the complicated and often inaccurate depiction of our multiple histories. Attia believes that through this type of reappropriation, disparities between superior/inferior, traditional/modern, and exotic/familiar can begin to dissolve.
Attia has received degrees from Ecole Supérieure des Arts Appliqués Duperré, Paris, France in 1993, La Escola Massana Arte i Disseny, Barcelona, Spain in 1994, and Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, France in 1998. Solo exhibitions of his work have been organized at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar (2021); BAK – basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, Netherlands (2021); Kunsthaus Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland (2020); , Sesc Pompeia São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil (2020); Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA), Berkeley, CA (2019); Hayward Gallery, London, United Kingdom (2019); Musée d'Art Contemporain du Val-de-Marne, Vitry-sur-Seine, France (2018); Fundació Joan Miró, Centre d'Estudis d'Art Contemporani, Barcelona, Spain (2018); Power Plant, Toronto, Canada (2018); Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH (2018); Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2018); The Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia (2017); Ludwig Museum, Koblenz, Germany (2017); Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University, St. Louis, MO (2017); Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.M.A.K.), Ghent, Belgium (2017); Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France (2016); Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, Germany (2016); Musée Cantonal des Beaux Arts, Lausanne, Switzerland (2015); KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2013); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2013); Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2012); Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA (2007); and Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon, France (2006). Recent group exhibitions featuring his work include Human, 7 Questions, Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul, South Korea (2021); The Roaring Twenties, Guggenheim Bilbao, Bilbao, Spain (2021); Africa Reborn, Musée du Quai Branly - Jacques Chirac, Paris, France (2021); Smoke and Mirrors: The Roaring Twenties, Kunsthaus Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland (2020); Down to Earth, Gropius Bau, Berlin, Germany (2020); Global(e) Resistance, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2020); Mythologies - The Beginning and End of Civilizations, ARoS Aarhus Art Museum, Aarhus, Denmark (2020); Our World is Burning, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2020); Phantom Limb, Jameel Arts Center, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (2019), When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration Through Contemporary Art, Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, Boston, MA, traveled to Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, MN (2019-2020); The Warmth of Other Suns: Stories of Global Displacements, Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. (2019); 12th Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai, China (2018); The Flow of Forms, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Germany (2017); Foreign Gods: Fascination Africa and Oceania, Leopold Museum, Vienna, Austria (2016); But a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise: Contemporary Art of the Middle East and North Africa, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY (2016); Picasso in Contemporary Art, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, Germany (2015); The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell Revisited, The Smithsonian Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C., traveled to SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA, and Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, Germany (2014-2015); Here and Elsewhere, New Museum, New York, NY (2014); Performing Histories, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY (2012); and Contested Terrains, Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom (2011).
Attia has participated in multiple biennial exhibitions, including Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present, Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (forthcoming, 2023); the 13th and 12th Gwangju Biennial, Gwangju, South Korea (2020 and 2018); 12th Shanghai Biennale, China (2018); Marrakesh Biennial 4 and 6 (2014 and 2016); 8th and 13th Lyon Biennale (2005 and 2015); dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany (2012); and the 50th and 54th Venice Biennales (2003 and 2011). His work is in numerous international public and private collections, including Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates; Collection Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; Fondation Louis Vuitton pour la Création, Paris, France; Fond National d’Art Contemporain, France; Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA; Museo Jumex, Ciudad de México, México; Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar; Margulies Collection, Miami, FL; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden; Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, Austria; Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates; S.M.A.K. Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art, Ghent, Belgium; Société Générale, Paris, France; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom; Vehbi Koç Foundation, Istanbul, Turkey; and the Vanmoerkerke Collection, Belgium.
Attia has received several prestigious awards including the 2017 Joan Miró Prize, Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, Spain, the 2017 Yanghyun Prize, Seoul, South Korea, and the 2016 Prix Marcel Duchamp, Paris, France. He was selected to curate the 12th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art (2022).
Artist portrait by Camille Millerand