Ghost is not just about what’s there, but even more so about what isn’t there.
The installation consists of hundreds of aluminum casts of kneeling figures. The empty casts placed closely together, fill the room with their shape and their emptiness. It is not unusual to identify these sculptures with praying women. Thus, one can draw parallels to religion, to the Catholic Church’s Mary, and Muslim women traditionally modeled after the ideal of Fatima, Muhammad’s fifth and youngest daughter. From our Nordic perspective it is logical to see the work as a critique of women’s rights, equality and deprivation of independence within dominant cultural and religious groups.
However, moving away from the backside and from the political and religious aspect, towards the front of Kader Attia´s installation, our perception is likely to change. It is not the faces of hundreds of women we are looking at, but empty, hollow shells. Their identity lies not in their presence but in their absence. It is the emptiness that creates the strongest sense of presence. “Thus “what is” constitutes The possibility of everything, “what is not” constitutes its function”.
In comparison to, let’s say a vase, it is not their shape, but their emptiness that constitutes their purpose. And is it not in addition to the religious and political issues, ourselves we recognize in these figures? Is it not the contour of our own faces we see reflected in the foil? And are we not in comparison to for example Muslim women, also part of a cultural group, and not entirely liberated from our body? Facing Ghost, by Kader Attia, we are confronted with the impossibility of escaping the body, but also the many possibilities this entails.
Kader Attia (b. 1970, France) Lives and works in Germany. He grew up in Paris suburbs with his Algerian parents. Attia´s artistic aproach is embedded with his own dual cultural identity. He investigates and develops a dynamic practice exploring the far reaching concequences of Western cultural hegemony and colonialism on non-Western cultures. Attia does not refrain for including controversial content. He explores varied sides of identity politics of historical and colonial eras, as well as in our current globalized world. This he does through a poetic and symbolic approach often through minimalistic objects and installations.
Attia is a central figure in the international art scene, with a number of exhibitions at institutions as Musée Kantonale des Beaux Arts de Lausanne; MOMA, NYC; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Tate Modern i London; Saatchi i London; BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle; KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels; Singapore Art Museum amomg others, participation at Documenta and other biennials like Venezia Biennal; Lyon Biennal; Marrakech Biennial; Biennale de l’Art Africain Contemporain etc... Attia is represented by Nagel Draxler Gallery, Berlin and Lehmann Maupin, New York.
Courtesy of Nagel Draxler Gallery, Berlin.
- Ghost, 2007, installation of sculptures, aluminum foil, detail, courtesy Collection Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, private collection, and Galerie Nagel Draxler, photo credit : Kader Attia.
- Ghost, 2007, installation of sculptures, aluminum foil, view at Galerie Christian Nagel - Antwerp, 2011, courtesy the artist, Collection Centre Georges Pompidou – Paris, private collection, and Galerie Nagel Draxler, photo credit: Sven Goyvaerts.
Our special thanks to our sponsor RIMI:
RIMI Håkonsgaten, RIMI Marken, RIMI Bergen Storsenter, RIMI Gågaten.