Kader Attia

Untitled, 2009

This piece is inspired by the artist’s thinking about the phenomena of influences and the signs of reappropriation seen in cultural spaces. A child of immigration who was raised between two countries and two cultures, Kader Attia has not forgotten how deeply Le Corbusier’s trip to Algeria in the early 1930s left its mark on the “Athens Charter” and on western architecture of the 20th century. In fact, the modernist principles of the “roof terrace” and the “open façade" were already present from the 11th century onward in the traditional architecture of the North African desert.
The artist has transposed this interplay of influences to the aesthetic plane by building a poetic and sensory image of the Algerian desert. A circular landscape, three meters in diameter and made up of dunes, is spread over the floor. Empty spaces are arranged at the center of this undulating carpet, bathed in warm light, and the sharp-edged orthogonality of their contours recalls the architecture of a Mozabite village. Through his use of the void as the matrix for the built space – enabling us to see it in “the negative” – and grains of couscous to represent sand, Kader Attia emphasizes the organic and cultural sedimentation in landscape architecture. For the viewer, this metonymical game of inversion creates a powerful visual experience, and in the end, the contrasts – formal, volumetric, luminous –result in a piece offering an image of balance and cosmic harmony.

Aurélien Vernant

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