Kader Attia

French-Algerian artist taking on colonialism and its legacies

Attia is an unlikely art star: his video installations are often long, thoughtful affairs, politics never far from the surface. He does make big, biennial-friendly installations, but they are never spectacular for the sake of it. At the Gwangju Biennial this year the artist exhibited a series of mismatched pairs of prosthetic legs sat on chairs; in between these eerie spotlit assemblages, a series of low-mounted monitors screen interviews with people from across Asia who have been caught up in wars and uprisings, as well as mental health professionals ruminating on the legacy of trauma. Attia also showed at Manifesta 12 in Sicily, and undertook four solo museum exhibitions, while maintaining the programme of workshops, music festivals and exhibitions at La Colonie, the off-space he runs in Paris. Nor is his pace slackening. His work is to appear in the imminent Shanghai Biennale, while next year the Hayward Gallery in London will stage a survey.