Kader Attia’s vast installation, The Repair from Occident to Extra-Occidental Cultures, is the result of many years of research into the concept of repair. Resembling an immense archive or museum storeroom, it explores different attitudes towards repair found in Western and non-Western cultures.
Displayed on the shelves and in the three vitrines are hundreds of objects, including African masks, vintage photographs, books, newspapers and a series of decorative, functional and devotional objects constructed by soldiers during the First World War. Exhibited alongside these objects are a series of busts commissioned by the artist and made by craftsmen in Senegal, West Africa, and Carara, Italy.
In the slide show that forms part of this installation, Attia pairs images of soldiers treated to early, rudimentary plastic surgery with African masks and objects bearing signs of physical repair – an unsettling series of juxtapositions that challenges our conventional ideas about wholeness, injury, beauty and otherness.