Measure and Control, 2013, by Kader Attia

Saturday, February 2, 2019 - 13:22

For much of his career, Kader Attia has made art that explores the politics of Western museums. ‘I’ve always been interested in staging the obsession of the Western modern mind to organise the universe’, explains the artist. ‘My work, specifically that which deals with museums, is looking for a way we can escape this’. 

Kader Attia, Measure and Control, 2013. Series of 5 vitrines (detail). Vintage vitrine, stuffed animal (cheetah), African mask, framed vintage photograph. Courtesy of the artist and GALLERIA CONTINUA, San Gimignano / Beijing / Les Moulins / Habana. Photo: Ela Bialkowska

In many of his sculptures and installations, Attia ironically invokes the display methods and subject matter of a typical 19th-century natural history or ethnographic museum – making use of theatrical lighting, plinths and vitrines – in order to explore the way in which colonialism continues to shape how Western societies represent and engage with non-Western cultures. 

Through the selection of objects in the two vitrines both called Measure and Control, the artist invites us to consider the ways in which different cultures represent and relate to the natural world, as well as to cultures other than their own. As Attia explains, ‘I’m critiquing those social sciences that claim to control and understand the world... just by classifying it’. 




Kader Attia: The Museum of Emotion was at Hayward Gallery 13 February until 6 May 2019


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