This article provides a review of the French-Algerian artist Kader Attia’s solo exhibition, Sacrifice and Harmony, a selection of twenty-nine works of installation, video, sculpture, collage, and assemblage, hosted by the Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK) in Frankfurt, Germany, from April 16 to August 14, 2016. The show was awarded German exhibition of the year by the International Association of Art Critics. Attia, the 2016 recipient of the prestigious Marcel Duchamp Prize, continues his long-running exploration of the construct of repair. This theoretical framework functions as part of Attia’s productive interrogation of the West’s cultural amnesia, particularly with regard to the mechanisms and atrocities of its colonial past and the ramifications of these actions on the present day. Beyond exploring the psychology and politics of repair through works such as the video installation Reason’s Oxymorons (2015), the exhibition at the MMK introduces new terms as well—sacrifice and harmony—to describe what Attia refers to as the complicated character of our contemporary world. This focus opens the door for Attia to engage more overt, political content in works such as Los de Arriba y Los de Abajo (2015), a psychologically charged, abbreviated, physical rendition of the divided walkways of the West Bank city of Hebron. With this exhibition Attia exceeds the seemingly superficial characteristics of the so-called Global Contemporary. He proves that he is an artist of our time, one who continues to push at the boundaries of how we function on an individual and communal basis.
Brett M. Van Hoesen; Sacrifice and Harmony. Nka 1 November 2017; 2017 (41): 192–197. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10757163-4271849
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