Kader Attia (2017): Block Museum - Northwestern University
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Kader Attia

Kader Attia (2017)

In Fall 2017, The Block Museum presented an exhibition of newly commissioned work by the internationally acclaimed French-Algerian artist Kader Attia (b. 1970), 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. Conceived as an installation, the exhibition Kader Attia: Reflecting Memory featured collage, a sculpture, and an extended film-essay. Taken as a whole, the works expanded on Attia’s long-term exploration of trauma and repair, both of the body and of society, and probes the legacies of colonialism, slavery, and xenophobia in our time. 

About Kader Attia

Kader Attia grew up moving between Algeria and the suburbs of Paris, and uses this experience of living as a part of two cultures as a starting point to develop a dynamic practice that confronts cultural differences. His debut solo exhibition was held in 1996 in the Republic of Congo, and since then his artistic career has gained major international recognition, with inclusion in exhibitions such as the 50th Venice Biennale (2003), dOCUMENTA13 (2012), the 8th Lyon Biennial (2015), the 5th Marrakech Biennial (2016), and Dak'Art 2016. Attia has recently exhibited in major shows at the Museum of Modern Art, the Centre Pompidou, the Tate Modern, and the Guggenheim Museum. In 2016 he was awarded the Marcel Duchamp Prize, among France’s most prestigious arts award, and his solo exhibition Sacrifice and Harmony, at the Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, was named German exhibition of the year by the International Association of Art Critics (AICA).

Events with Kader Attia

  • The Artist in the Archive: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Kader Attia in the Herskovits Library
    Thursday, March 2, 2017
    As a foundation for producing his new commission for the Block, artist Kader Attia mined the holdings of Northwestern’s renowned Melville Herskovits Library of African Studies. The renowned library’s scope is as wide and diverse as the continent of Africa itself. Join Herskovits Library curator Esmeralda Kale for a look at objects in the library’s collection that formed part of Attia’s research. Members of AfriSem, a consortium of graduate students focused on African Studies, will explore intertwined areas of Attia’s research—architecture, psychopathology, and prosthetics—taking materials from the Library as a point of departure.
  • Opening Day: Kader Attia
    Saturday, January 21, 2017
    Guests joined the Block for the opening of the newly commissioned installation by internationally renowned artist Kader Attia, informed by his research in the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies and interviews with Northwestern faculty across disciplines. Curators Kathleen Bickford Berzock and Janet Dees gave context to the project, followed by a conversation between Attia and Caroline Bledsoe and Peter Locke, faculty members in anthropology and global health studies. The conversation was moderated by art history PhD candidate Antawan Byrd.



Read More About Kader Attia

Manthia Diawara, "All the Difference in the World: the Art of Kader Attia," Artforum (February 2014)

Hannah Gregory, "Archival Impulse: An Interview with Kader Attia," Apollo (April 10, 2015)

Nazanin Lankarani, "French-Algerian artist Explores Identity and Repair," New York Times (June 11, 2013)