SWITZERLAND / LAUSANNE
SINCE DOCUMENTA 13 (“THE REPAIR FROM OCCIDENT TO EXTRA-OCCIDENTAL CULTURES”), KADER ATTIA’S WORK HAS BEEN ACQUIRED BY SEVERAL MUSEUMS AND FOUNDATIONS, INCLUDING MMK FRANKFURT, WHERE HIS NEXT RETROSPECTIVE WILL BE HELD IN 2016. IN THE MEANTIME, THE WORK OF THIS FRANCO-ALGERIAN ARTIST (BORN IN FRANCE IN 1970, LIVES AND WORKS IN BERLIN AND ALGIERS) IS ON SHOW AT THE MUSÉE CANTONAL DES BEAUX-ARTS DE LAUSANNE. WE TOOK THE OPPORTUNITY TO HEAR HIS THOUGHTS.
L'OFFICIEL ART: Historical, social, and political themes are at the heart of your work, notably to do with the notion of debt/repair – as recently seen at the Middelheim Museum in Antwerp. What is your personal assessment in terms of self-awareness as your work has developed over the years, and in terms of the possible evolution of views on these themes? KADER ATTIA: An assessment seems premature to me, in as far as this concept still holds some secrets. Every day repair shows itself to be a complex rhizomatic system that has no bounds, as it seems to structure all areas of the universe. At the beginning, I worked on repair from a purely material point of view, from Modernity to Tradition and vice versa: “The Repair from Occidental to extra-Occidental Cultures”. Then I went on to become interested in the ambiguity and ambivalence of fundamental differences between traditional non-occidental cultures and occidental modernity. The way in which a broken object is repaired in traditional extra-occidental cultures foregrounds the breakage. In this way, the repaired object finds a new life. Repair in modern Western cultures is meant to return the object to its original state—the state before it was broken. This paradoxical practice of repair clearly explains the concerns of the modern mind on the traditional mind: the `savage mind,' to use the term dear to Levi-Strauss. Now, if we transpose this idea of repair from the field of modernity/tradition to that of Nature, we realise that what Darwin and Wallace discovered in their research on the evolution of the species is based on the same principle: the necessity in all living species for a member `not adapted to his environment' to be replaced by another who knows better how to adapt in order to contribute to the evolution of the species, and of course to his survival. They call this process of necessary replacement `natural selection'. What is natural selection if not repair? Any existing system in the universe is subject to a structure that self-regulates through repair.
This exhibition will present a wide panorama of your work. What form will it take? The nature of this space is such that it must be carefully considered before exhibiting a group of works there. How can such a huge museum, like a Metropolitan
or a Louvre, which brings together archaeology, natural history, and art museums, still matter today, with the importance that art has to visitors' eyes, in a country like Switzerland, home to other large cities and large museums? First of all, because of its political potential, this museum is the perfect platform on which to put forward a political message poetically: aesthetic and ethical. Its historical character, in terms of its architecture, its history, and its collections, makes it the perfect tool for a dialogue between political works that critique and aim to open viewers' eyes to the world in which we live and whose roots were planted by European colonialism: I will have the opportunity to do this with the work A Culture of Fear: The Invention of Evil, which I will put in dialogue with oriental paintings from the museum's collection. The evolution of violence rendered visual today hasn't come about by chance. ISIS practices the continued aesthetic of orientalism, itself invented by the Europeans (led by the French…). This exhibition will retrace my work with projects that I think it is very important to reactivate and new works that have come out of these last fifteen years of work. I felt a violent and necessary turning point in my intellectual project when repair struck me as the principal aspect of creation in the broad sense: there will therefore be the issue of different ways and means in this exhibition, from Nature to Culture, via the purely contentious issue of form and concept, which repair brings to light in a way that is sometimes sublime…
22 MAY - 30 AUGUST, MUSÉE CANTONAL DES BEAUX-ARTS, LAUSANNE, Palais de Rumine Place de la Riponne 6, 1014 Lausanne, T +41(0)21 316 34 45.