Kader Attia, Le Corps Reconstruit, 2015 | © courtesy the artist, private collection and Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna and Galerie Nagel Draxler, Berlin/Cologne
In his works, the artist Kader Attia addresses the concept of “repair” as a constant in life. In the oldest and largest anatomy lecture hall at Berlin’s Charité he develops a narrative about the body in three fragments for the Dictionary of Now.
One hundred years ago, the bodies of disabled World War veterans became the impetus for breaking ground in aesthetic surgery. What changes are subject to aesthetic ideals and our perceptions of the body? In what contexts does the body become political? For the fifth edition of the Dictionary of Now, Kader Attia and his guests will enter the historic Friedrich Kopsch Lecture Hall at the Charité Anatomical Institute to approach the concept of the body from different directions.
In an opening statement, Kader Attia introduces his reflections of loss, trauma and phantom pain on the individual level and in society as a whole.
A second fragment is the German premiere of Kader Attia’s award-winning film Réfléchir la Mémoire / Reflecting Memory (2016, Video HD, 45 min, original version with English subtitles, courtesy: Kader Attia and Galerie Nagel Draxler Berlin/ Köln). In his film essay, Kader Attia assembles a series of interviews with surgeons, historians, philosophers, psychoanalysts, and traumatized people on the questions of the phantom limb trauma and its psychosocial implications.
In a third contribution, the political scientist Françoise Vergès analyzes transformations of the human body and points out the historical continuities of racial narratives forced onto bodies. What can we learn from colonial slavery about predatory economy and wars today? Starting from the political and economic dimensions of the black body in the context of the Transatlantic slave trade during colonialism, she analyzes the structure of the self in the “post-colonial body” and politics of reparation.
Kader Attia grew up in Algeria and in the suburbs of Paris. In his work, the experience of being part of two cultures forms the starting point for a dynamic praxis that sets out to reflect on aesthetic and ethical issues situated between Western thought and non-Western cultures. He investigates the identity politics of the historical and colonial eras, pointing out perpetual elements of tradition within modernity until today, in the light of our globalized world. For several years, Kader Attia’s research has focused on the concept of “repair” as a constant in human nature and a concept on which the modern Western mind and traditional extra-Occidental thought have always held opposite visions. Whether from culture to nature, gender to architecture, or from science to philosophy, all systems of life are in an infinite process of repair. His many exhibitions include: Sacrifice and Harmony, a solo show at the Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main; Contre Nature, a solo show at the Beirut Art Center; and Continuum of Repair: The Light of Jacob’s Ladder, a solo show at the Whitechapel Gallery, London. Recently he was awarded the 2016 Prix Marcel Duchamp.
Françoise Vergès holds the Chair “Global South(s),” at the Collège d’études mondiales, Fondation maison des sciences de l’homme, Paris. She received her PhD in Political Theory from the University of California, Berkeley, and writes on vernacular practices, memories of colonial slavery and colonialism, psychoanalysis, museums, Frantz Fanon, Aimé Césaire, on the processes of Indian-Oceanic creolization, and decolonial feminism. Between 2009 and 2012, she was president of France’s National Committee for the Memory and History of Slavery. Collaborating with filmmakers and artists, she also works as an independent curator and participates in anti-racist politics.