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Kader Attia was born in 1970 into an Algerian family in the Parisian suburb Seine-Saint-Denis. He studied at the Ă‰cole SupĂ©rieure in Paris, spending a year at Barcelona's Escola de Artes Applicades. He held his first solo exhibition in 1996 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since this exhibition, Attia has exhibited regularly in France, in institutions such as the Palais de Tokyo and the Lyon Contemporary Art Museum as well as in Spain, Germany, Isreal, Sweden, the USA and the UK.
Attia's past and life in a Paris suburb where the graves of the French royal dynasties are to be found and which is also a hotspot of inter-cultural conflict has had a decisive impact on his work. Attia also lived in the Congo-Kinshasa for two and a half years, in addition to spending time in Venezuela and Algeria, which further informed the multicultural vision in his work.
Using his own identity that has been defined by several cultures as the starting point, he tackles the increasingly difficult relationship between Europe and immigrants, particularly those of Islamic faith. In doing so he does not allow himself to be tied down to one specific medium. His photographic work and films portray the smouldering conflicts arising from the history of French colonialisation and are characterised by exceptional attention to detail. The allegorical minimalism of his sculptures and installations on the other hand is frequently unsettling owing to the discord between their external sensory appeal and their controversial content. He then builds installations questioning the viewer about his fantasies and phobias.
Attia has gained international recognition by participating the 50th Venice Biennale (2003), Art Basel Miami (2004) and the Lyon Biennale (2005). It was at the Lyon Biennale that Attia created one of his most famous works, Flying Rats, featuring seed-filled sacks shaped like children being devoured by 250 pigeons. Other works include La Piste d'atterrissage, or The Landing Strip, the culmination of Attia's work with Algerian transsexuals as they worked to try and find a place within wider French society.
In November 2007 he held his first solo exhibition in the USA, Momentum at the Boston ICA. His first large-scale solo exhibition New Works in the US opened in February 2008 at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle. Other recent projects include Square Dreams exhibit at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Newcastle in 2007 and four works Black & white: signs of the times, 'Casbah', 'Oil and Sugar' and sculptures, two of which he created exclusively for the Centro de Arte Contemporaneo in Huarte, Spain in 2008. Kader is exhibiting at the Havana Biennale (2009) and the Sydney Biennale (2010).
Kader Attia was nominated for the Marcel Duchamp Prize in 2005.
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