Attia was preoccupied with the ramifications of colonial legacies and traumas long before movements to decolonise institutions and return cultural artefacts came on the global agenda. Through poetic installations, sculptures and videos, Attia interrogates the various forms of Western domination, exploring the possibility of ‘repair’ as a metaphor for resistance and the reappropriation of heritage and narratives. In November he opened a large survey at Mathaf, Doha, with two new commissions reflecting on restitution and on the concept of silence as both crippling and potentially reparative, in addition to shows at State of Concept, Athens, and BAK, Utrecht. The latter was the occasion for Attia to revive the spirit of La Colonie – the now-closed communal arts hub exploring decolonial practices he set up in Paris – through a series of IRL and livestreamed conversations with the likes of philosopher Achille Mbembe and political theorist Françoise Vergès. The 2022 Berlin Biennale, under his direction, will give him a new platform to develop these pressing conversations in more depth.
Most influential people in 2021 in the contemporary artworld
Artist - French-Algerian artist taking on colonialism and its legacies
69 in 2021