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 the 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 the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia (2017); Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL (2017); 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). Select group exhibitions featuring his work include Foreign Gods: Fascination Africa and Oceania, Leopold Museum, Vienna (2016); But a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise: Contemporary Art of the Middle East and North Africa, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2016); Picasso in Contemporary Art, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, Germany (2015); The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell Revisited, The Smithsonian Museum of African Art, Washington, DC, and 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 (2014); Performing Histories, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2012); and Contested Terrains, Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom (2011). Attia has participated in multiple biennial exhibitions, including the Marrakech Biennial 4 and 6 (2014 and 2016); 8th and 13th Lyon Biennale (2005 and 2015); dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany (2012); and 50th and 54th Venice Biennale (2003 and 2011). His work is in numerous international public and private collections, including Centre Pompidou, Paris; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA; The Colección Jumex, Mexico City; Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and Tate Gallery, London.
Attia was notably the recipient of the 2016 Prix Marcel Duchamp, an award that honors outstanding artists working in France and supports their ongoing practice. In October 2017, Attia was awarded the sixth Joan Miró Prize. The prize, which is awarded by Fundació Joan Miró and Obra Social "la Caixa", is one of the most prestigious and generous contemporary art awards in the world.