Attia spent his childhood moving between France and Algeria, an experience that has had a profound impact on his work, which examines the complex relationship between East and West. This double slide projection is based on the artist’s comprehensive research on modern Western aesthetics, focusing on the repair of the human body, which he compares to the evolution of repair in extra-Occidental cultures. Attia took photographs of repaired objects in the storage facilities of museums, including the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Belgium and the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C. The portraits of wounded soldiers from World War I come from the archives of various army museums. Attia organized the images in a comparative slide show, inserting phrases referring to modernism, its tradition and controversies. In doing this, he has appropriated the basic tasks of the Western art museum—collection, preservation, and education—and a method particular to the teaching of art history (the slide show), creating an alternate museology of objects.
Gallery label from Performing Histories: Live Artworks Examining the Past, September 12, 2012–March 8, 2013.