Kader Attia is a French Algerian artist who now divides his time among Berlin, Algiers, and Paris. This article surveys his sculptural and photographic practice since his provocative Piste d’atterrissage (1997). It argues that Attia’s invocation of modernist urbanism, religious custom, and the aftermath of human migration combine across the arc of his production to present a dystopic picture of globalization that critiques both postcolonial theories of hybridity and the cultural and architectural homogenization against which they were originally formulated. Crucially, this picture is grounded in the particularities of the displacement and destruction generated first by the Algerian War of Independence and then by the Algerian Civil War. Yet the degree to which Attia is expanding his focus beyond the specifics of this experience marks his investment in probing the claims of universalism that originally underlay the colonialist premise. The article also explores the ways in which Attia’s focus on the spatial and pictorial exclusion of migrant and exiled subjects engages the art world’s celebration of its own purported global reach.

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