Kader Attia
Kader Attia © Franz Johann Morgenbesser
Visual arts

Kader Attia is curator of the Berlin Biennale

Repair is not just about sticking parts back together. It's a process that ties two situations together, and that transforms one situation into another.

The French-Algerian artist Kader Attia, whose work has explored memory and colonial issues for two decades, has just been appointed curator of the Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art (11 June - 18 September 2022). Around twenty French artists are represented, with the support of the Institut français's “Relance export” programme. 

Kader Attia himself benefited from the support of the Institut français, and the French culturel network abroad, in the framework of several exhibitions : Repairing the Invisible at S.M.A.K in 2017, Le Musée de la Guérison In Greece in 2021 and Fragments of Repair in Uterech (the Netherlands) also in 2021. 

Updated on 18/10/2022

5 min

Kader Attia was born in 1970 and grew up between Sarcelles and Bab-el-Oued in Algeria. He spent several years in Congo as part of his military service. During this time, a friend gave him the wrapper of an ancient Kuba princess, patched using scraps of French fabrics. This was the start of a long project on the concept of repair, something central to Attia’s work, which for him is closely linked with an exploration of colonialism and the regimes of visibility. Back in France, he enrolled in courses at the École Supérieure des Arts Appliqués Duperré, the Arts Décoratifs in Paris, and the Escola Massana, Centre d'Art i Disseny in Barcelona. This was the start of an extensive career dedicated to investigating the complex relationships between France and its immigrant population, culminating in the controversial exhibition Hallal, at Galerie Kamel Mennour, in 2004. Now exhibited and recognised internationally, he was awarded the Marcel Duchamp prize in 2016. 

Attia has been conducting intercultural and interdisciplinary research for over twenty years. Working in several different media, the artist began his career with photography, before shifting his focus to installations. These sometimes monumental works often attest to a political activism that has never wavered. The concept of repair, be it material, psychic or symbolic, has served as the common thread for his work for more than two decades. He believes that social, state or cultural institutions can all be considered stakeholders in a cycle of destruction and repair, which also involves gathering and reappropriating. This dimension was tangible in his recent piece Les Entrelacs de l’Objet (The Object’s Interlacing, 2020), which superimposes African cultural artefacts with a video of the Senegalese philosopher Souleymane Bachir Diagne. 

In 2016, Attia founded La Colonie in Paris, near the Gare du Nord, a self-managed bar and events space that aimed to facilitate debate and discussion. Focusing mainly on notions of decolonialisation, it hosted many key figures of postcolonial thought and sought to decompartmentalise knowledge through a transcultural approach. Rocked by the Covid-19 crisis, La Colonie closed in 2020. Recently, the French-Algerian artist, who has lived in Berlin for nearly twenty years where he also has a studio, was appointed curator of the Berlin Biennale, a role traditionally reserved for practitioners. 

  • 1970


    Born in Dugny, Seine-Saint-Denis.

  • 1990


    Spends two years in Congo as part of his military service.

  • 2004


    His exhibition Hallal, at Galerie Kamel Mennour, sparks controversy.

  • 2016


    Founds La Colonie, a cross-cultural venue for debate. That same year, he is awarded the Marcel Duchamp prize.

  • 2022


    Appointed curator of the Berlin Biennale.

The Institut français and the Berlin Biennale

The Institut français supports the participation of artists from the French cultural scene to the Berlin Biennale, in the framework of its Relance Export programme

Find out more about the Berlin Biennale 

L'institut français, LAB