Curated by Karolin Koechling, Kader Attia’s The Field of Emotion tackles wounds of the past and notions of literal and symbolic repair. However, rather than an act of restoration, Attia’s practice has revolved around the concept of repair of circumstances and occurrences that are technically irreparable in what he refers to as “a Modernity obsessed with the disappearance of injury.” Addressing societies spanning Africa to Japan, Attia looks to the visual traces of history left on objects. “The work of art holds a crucial role in the restorative process. Besides the fact that it itself incarnates reparation, it questions a political horizon affecting all categories of society. It is always discussed, hated, but never insignificant. Why? Because it embodies the field of emotion!” stated Attia.
For his first solo museum exhibition in Canada, works such as the installation J’accuse (2016) and the film Memory (2016) will be on display. The wooden bust installation was inspired by the disfigurement of World War I soldiers, and is set up in front of a projection of the French director Abel Gance’s 1919 antiwar film of the same name, which foreshadowed the 1938 event. Engaging phantom limbs and graphically or grotesquely configured portraits to act as reminders of trauma and the need to address it instead of turning a blind eye, Attia’s film delves further into this.
Featuring interviews with surgeons, surgeons, neurologists, psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, historians and musicians, Memory attempts to explore the root of psychological pain physically manifested by drawing parallels to genocide. There will also be a new film work on show derived from Attia’s conversations with academics from anthropological, historical and psychiatry faculties on Canada’s relationship to a past of colonisation and the effects on individual and collective memories and presents.