Artist. Kadar Attia
Organisation. The Biennale of Sydney
Kadar Attia – b. 1970 in Paris, France. Lives and works in Berlin, Germany.
Kasbah was presented for the 17th Biennale of Sydney: The Beauty of Distance: Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age in 2010. Kasbah was a large-scale installation which filled one of the cavernous spaces in the Turbine Hall on Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour. It was composed of a patchwork of corrugated iron, satellite dishes and scrap metal creating the rooftop landscape of an improvised dwelling or shantytown found on the fringes of cities across the world.
Viewers walked over the installation, becoming part of it, the corrugated iron crunching under their feet. The roofs bent and buckled in places under the weight of the viewer, evoking the precariousness of life for people living in makeshift structures.
The work forms a microcosm of contemporary reality laying out for questioning the economic and power structures that create these shantytowns. The difficulty of making each tentative step over this uneven, variegated surface provoked a consideration of the success and failure of the globalised economy and of the human ability to wrestle a liveable existence from almost nothing.
Attia grew up in both Algeria and the suburbs of Paris, this dual identity often forms the starting point through which he develops a dynamic practice reflecting on the aesthetics and ethics of different cultures. Attia explores the wide-ranging repercussions of Western modern cultural hegemony and colonialism on non-Western cultures, investigating identity politics of historical and colonial eras.
The Keir Foundation is delighted to have assisted in commissioning this work for the 17th Biennale of Sydney: The Beauty of Distance: Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age curated by David Elliott.