Kader Attia

Kader Attia

As far as I have seen it, New Yorkers have several hobbies, like european art, that you can actually see at the ICP or in the NYC library, make fun of French society and of course speaking about psychoanalysis (their own analysis preferably). For this reason, Kader Attia, a young french artist should please the New Yorkers.

Kader Attia is a native of Algeria and has grown up in the sad parisian suburbs. Here, he had discovered the questioning raised by multiculturality, and the big gap separating occidental and oriental cultures. He is particularly endeavour to show the difficulties raised by the link he had, as a lot of emigrates to make between a traditionnal culture and the attraction of a consumering society, linked to an idea of  abundance.

As an example, one of his most important work on this  theme is "The Runway", made between 1997 and 2000. This is a slide show about the life of transsexual Algerians exiled in Paris.


An other work questioning and denouncing the bearing between occidentals and the rest of the world had been shown in Miami's Art Basel in 2004: Attia had recreate a clandestine workshop in a caravan which was in the exhibiton place. This had create a huge debate and a wonderful feeling of revolt among all the visitors dressed with made-in-china-fashionable clothes. This help us to put into question our own ambiguities: are we ready to admit that we should abandon things that we considered such as privileges in order to create a more equal world? it seems that the answer is: not yet. We are just ready to be revolted when seeing the life conditions of the poor workers and maybe some of us considered that it is still a great pace in the story of humanity ...

The clothes created during this show participe of a  wider proposal: he had created a deposit mark called  "hallal" in reference to the muslim food, once again in order to question the link between his own identity and the consumerist attraction.



In the same vein, he creates a vending machine (usually containing candies and sodas), and put in it some false products as  hallal ham" Those works functioned immediatly because they are made with very usual things. We are so accustomed to see streetwear clothes and vending machines that it products a striking effect to find that in exhibitions, usually filled with aesthetic works, which bring us far from our daily life. Attia doesn't want to entertain us, he wants to put into question our codes and values, to confrontate us to our paradoxical behaviour, to our fears: he forces us to confront ourselves to everything we do not want to admit.

A more recent work "The Loop," illustrates this confrontation too, and illustrates the strikening effect of Attia's works. This work gathered a hanged on  DJ, two break dancers, a turner dervish and some music in a circus. At first sight, it is hypnotizing because of the movement of the break dancers and of the derviche, and in the mean time disturbing because of the hanged Dj, and a constantly repeated  "god" in the musical theme which creates an uncanny atmosphere and a certain malaise. Kader Attia, about this work speaks about a confrontation of "the ecstatic vision of trance, the circular movement which is in the mean time the movement of the Dj and of the spiritual world". the gathering of those different themes which are part of his identity (the religion and the suburbs culture) in a universe of desperation is both a sign of his own history and a provocation toward the spectator. His art make sense always as questioning of our behaviours and his personal story.


Kader Attia, when exploring his unconscious explores in the mean time ours. In recreating some gigantic spiders, using simply umbrella metallic structures, he asks our phobia and play on the double sens it has for him: indeed, spiders are synonymous with hapiness in oriental culture, and are one of our worst nightmare in occidental countries. Kader Attia is always playing to a disturbing game in

His universe is often creates thanks to very simple things such as the umbrellas. In another work he recreates thanks to policemen coshes (a few of them had been collected after the november riots in France) a souvik calligraphy talking about peace...


Our collective imaginary is constantly questioned by Kader Attia. In using 152 old frigdes, he recreates a city in wich the spectator walk, constantly wodering if he walks betwenn fidges or between buildings. This indetermination leads us to be completely lost. This is one of the strenght of Attia's work: emotions come immediatly and are always followed by a deep (and necessary) reflexion.


Kader Attia always demonstrates the importance that the arts should have in a society. They are mediums which convey both a testimony and a questioning of a society, the individuals it is composed of, and both its history and its future.

So in matter of art as in football, France should take a look to its diversity.