The inaugural Outset Partners Grants Programme awarded a core grant to Hayward Gallery’s first major survey in the United Kingdom of one of today’s leading international artists: KADER ATTIA (b. 1970, France, lives and works in Berlin and Algiers).
The Museum of Emotion highlights several strands of KADER ATTIA’s thought-provoking and influential art from the past two decades. Offering a trenchant post-colonial perspective, Attia’s work often pushes the boundaries of traditional museum presentation whilst it raises questions about the hegemony of Western cultural models. Spanning a wide range of media, the works in this exhibition inventively explore the ways in which colonialism continues to shape how Western societies represent and engage with non-Western cultures.
At the core of the exhibition, a key group of artworks explore the idea of repair as both a physical and symbolic act, relating to individual as well as social trauma. These varied works draw on Attia’s extensive research and personal exchanges with an expansive range of practitioners, including traditional healers, neurologists, psychoanalysts, philosophers, ethnomusicologists, surgeons and traumatised individuals. Deeply affective and sometimes troubling, these artworks challenge our conventional ideas of wholeness and injury, authenticity and repair, belonging and otherness. They reflect the artist’s belief that ‘our world today cannot be understood without taking into account the psychological and emotional aspects of society’.
Ralph Rugoff, Director, Hayward Gallery said: “Kader Attia is one of the most interesting and cogent artists practising today. Attia expands the boundaries of what it means to be an artist working today by acting as a savvy historian, an archaeologist, an anthropologist, ethnologist and sociopolitical commentator. Exploring timely subjects such as migration, gender, border politics and the lingering legacies of Western colonialism, Attia is making an invaluable contribution at a time when many societies are increasing polarised. Moving and challenging, his art illuminates the possibilities of a new idea of repair.”
Kader Attia: The Museum of Emotion is curated by Ralph Rugoff, Director of Hayward Gallery, with Assistant Curator Sophie Oxenbridge.
KADER ATTIA: The Museum of Emotion
For much of his career Attia has made art that critically explores the politics of Western museums. The Museum of Emotion brings together a key group of sculptures and theatrically-lit installations that ironically invoke classical ethnology and natural history museums in order to explore how such places have historically misrepresented artefacts from non-Western cultures whilst also presenting fantastical displays of animal life in the West’s former colonies. Several of these artworks, such as The Scream (2016) or Mirrors and Masks (2013), point to the still under-acknowledged influence of African culture on the trajectory of Western art history. A number of other sculptures link the museological impulse to classify and catalogue to an ethic of control and repression of emotion. In a series of vitrines titled Measure and Control (2013), Attia juxtaposes traditional African masks with stuffed animals and Western optical devices to reveal the profound gulf separating the way these different cultures understand and represent the natural world. A group of major works in The Museum of Emotion highlight Attia’s longstanding preoccupation with the notion of repair. As opposed to a Western mode of repair which aims to erase all physical signs of an injury, Attia’s work articulates an approach to repair akin to non-Western cultures where marks left by traumatic events are accepted – or even visually emphasised – in order to acknowledge particular histories and their transformative impact. An arresting slideshow launches this investigation, juxtaposing images of African masks and objects bearing signs of physical repair with images of disfigured soldiers from World War I, known in France as the Gueules Cassées, or ‘Broken Faces’, who were treated to early rudimentary plastic surgery procedures. Attia also portrays these mutilated faces in a number of large busts, carved from wood or marble, that suggest a very different kind of commemorative monument for veterans of war.
Bringing the theme of repair to the present day, the single channel video Reflecting Memory (2016) – for which Attia won the prestigious Marcel Duchamp Prize – explores the specific trauma of ‘phantom limb’ syndrome. Through the combination of poetic imagery and incisive interviews, this compelling video draws a link between a lost part of the body and the trauma created when part of the larger social body is cut off or destroyed. Showing in the Hayward’s HENI Project Space, Reflecting Memory will be free to enter for both exhibition ticket holders and the general public.
KADER ATTIA (b. 1970, France) grew up in Paris and in Algeria. He lives and works in Berlin and Paris. Preceding his studies at the École Supérieure des Arts Appliqués Duperré and the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, and at Escola Massana, Centre d’Art i Disseny in Barcelona, he spent several years in Congo and in South America. Kader Attia’s work recently has been on display at the 12th Shanghai Biennial in China, 12th Gwangju Biennial in Korea and Fundacio Joan Miro in Spain. Past solo exhibitions include Les racines poussent aussi dans le béton, Musée d’art contemporain du Val-de-Marne MACVAL, Vitry-sur-Seine; The Field of Emotion, the Power Plant, Toronto; Repairing the Invisible at SMAK, Ghent; Kader Attia, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Sacrifice and Harmony, Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt; The Injuries are Here, Musée Cantonal des Beaux Arts de Lausanne; Contre Nature, Beirut Art Center; Continuum of Repair: The Light of Jacob’s Ladder, Whitechapel Gallery, London; Repair. 5 Acts, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin. Kader Attia took part in the 12th Manifesta, Palermo; the 57th Venice Biennale, dOCUMENTA(13) in Kassel, as well as group shows at MoMA, New York; Tate Modern, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris and The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. In 2016, Kader Attia was awarded the Marcel Duchamp Prize, followed by the Joan Miró Prize of the Miró Foundation, Barcelona, and the Yanghyun Art Prize, Seoul, in 2017.
Drawing on Outset’s sixteen years of pioneering expertise in arts philanthropy, the Outset Partners were formed in 2018, a new community of dynamic philanthropists, committed to recognising where vital support is needed at the core of the creative ecosystem. A pioneering model for patronage, the Outset Partners are a group with a marked international profile, including individuals from France, Colombia, Japan, Taiwan, Brazil, the Philippines, Germany, Greece, USA and the United Kingdom. All are experts and entrepreneurs in their respective fields of philanthropy, education, the art market, fashion, finance, museums, architecture, and jewellery, amongst many other activities, focusing together on sustainability and development of institutions, the inclusion of diverse communities, important educational initiatives, and inspiring projects internationally.
The application and selection process for the Outset Partners Grants Programme is managed by the Outset team. The judging panel is composed of Outset Partners who preside over it in close consultation with Outset Associate Steering Committee: Nicolette Cavaleros, Roland Cowan, Maria & Theodore Fatsis, Didi Forster, Sylvain & Dominique Levy, Averill Ogden, Anna Shields, Fumiko Yamazaki, and others who wish to remain anonymous.
Hayward Gallery, part of Southbank Centre, has a long history of presenting work by the world’s most adventurous and innovative artists including major solo shows by both emerging and established artists and dynamic group exhibitions. They include those by Bridget Riley, Martin Creed, Antony Gormley, Tracey Emin, Andy Warhol, Ed Ruscha, Jeremy Deller, Anish Kapoor, René Magritte, Francis Bacon and David Shrigley, as well as influential group exhibitions such as Africa Remix, Light Show, Psycho Buildings and most recently Space Shifters. Opened by Her Majesty, The Queen in July 1968, the gallery is one of the few remaining buildings of its style. The Brutalist building was designed by a group of young architects, including Dennis Crompton, Warren Chalk and Ron Herron and is named after Sir Isaac Hayward, a former leader of the London County Council.