Tarrying with the Irreparable: Trauma and Kader Attia’s Arts of Repair

Miranda Schonbrun

Tarrying with the Irreparable: Trauma and Kader Attia’s Arts of Repair

September 20, 2019 / 9:00 am - 6:30 pm / Add to Google
3335 Dwinelle

This workshop is conceived in conversation with Algerian-French artist Kader Attia, and in relation to his exhibition on view at BAMPFA. It will engage with many primary themes of Attia’s work, reflecting on trauma and loss, war, colonization, madness and possession, the dead and ghostly, and, the contemporary, virtual form of haunting. It takes its point of departure from Attia’s idea of Repair, which is always entangled with the irreparable, and is made present in the materiality of wounds and scars, and the immaterial rifts—expressed as phantoms demanding to be heard—that haunt the lives of individuals and collectivities. Throughout we will explore the capacity of the artistic process to produce a shift in the spatio-temporal coordinates of the real, carrying us beyond the boundary of the visible and the invisible, the living and the dead, to produce uncanny and unexpected angles from which to feel, think, and see, otherwise. Artistic, psychoanalytic, and mediumistic practices explore the gaps, silences, and voids of modernity and reason. May these traumatic cuts be also an “abyss,” which may grant us an access to the world of the dead?

Participants include: Kader Attia, Stefania Pandolfo, Momar Guèye, Jalil Bennani, Emily Ng, Said Shehadeh, Natalia Brizuela, Anneka Lenssen, David Marriott, Soraya Tlatli, Kriss Ravetto-Biagioli and Peter Skafish. The workshop is free and open to the public.

Exhibition at BAMPFA (September 18 – November 17)

Kader Attia’s first solo exhibition in California, MATRIX 274 at BAMPFA, presents his seminal work J’accuse (2016). The installation features seventeen busts carved out of teak wood that Attia produced, assisted by Senegalese craftsmen, utilizing images of disfigured World War 1 veterans who suffered severe facial injuries and subsequently underwent plastic surgery. The sculptures are situated before a clip of French director Abel Gance’s 1938 antiwar film, J’accuse, in which actual wounded veterans of the Battle of Verdun, known in French as les gueules cassées (“broken faces”), play themselves. Resurrected from the dead, they march through the streets to warn the world of the atrocities of war. The title of the installation references both Gance’s film and Emila Zola’s “J’accuse!” (1898), an open letter to the president of France in defense of Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer falsely imprisoned for espionage as a result of an antisemitic conspiracy within the French army. For more information on Attia’s work and its exhibition at BAMPFA, go to https://bampfa.org/pogram/kader-attia-matrix-275

9 – 9:20 am  Welcome and coffee

9:20 – 9:30 am  Introduction: Kader Attia and Stefania Pandolfo

9:30 – 10:20 am  Film viewing: Kader Attia: ” Reflecting Memory” (2016)

10:20 – 11:30 am  OneTrauma, Chaos – Chair, Samera Esmeir (UC Berkeley, Rhetoric)

Kader Attia (Artist, Berlin, Algiers, La Colonie Paris): “Invisible Repairs”

Stefania Pandolfo (UC Berkeley, Anthropology): “Rituals of Chaos”

11:30-11:45 am  Coffee Break

11:45 – 1:30 pm: Two: Madness, Spirits, Possession (and/ in the Modern Hospital) – Chair, Stefania Pandolfo

Momar Guèye (Psychiatrist-Psychoanalyst, Fann Hospital, Dakar): “Between Psychiatric Knowledge and Invisible Worlds: A Senegalese Clinical Example”

Jalil Bennani (Psychoanalyst and author, Rabat, Morocco): “Traumas, Traces, Reparations”

Emily Ng (University of Amsterdam): “The Medium”

Said Shehadeh (Birzeit University): “Rupture/Repair: A Clinical Reflection”

1:30 – 2:15 pm  Lunch break

2:15 – 3 pm  Film viewing: Catharsis: The Living and the Dead Are Looking for Their Bodies” (2018)

3 – 4 pm  Three: Decolonizing Art: “Other Aesthetics” and the Artistic Process  Chair, Kriss Ravetto-Biagioli

Roundtable: Natalia Brizuela (UC Berkeley, Film & Media, Spanish and Portuguese) and Anneka Lenssen (UC Berkeley, Art History) in conversation with Kader Attia

4 – 5 pm Four: Disfigurations: Race, History, Reparation – Chair, Stefania Pandolfo

David Marriott (Penn State, Philosophy/Black Studies): “Disfigurement”

Peter Skafish (ISCI, UC Berkeley): “The Rough Metaphysics of the Superreal”

5 – 5:15 pm  Break

5:15 – 6:30  Five: The Virtual and the Medium  – Chair, David Marriott

Kriss Ravetto-Biagioli (UC Davis, Film Studies): “Ghosts of the Machine”

Soraya Tlatli (UC Berkeley, French): “Enchanting History: Mohammed Dib’s Who Remembers the Sea”

Jalil Bennani and Kader Attia: “Dialogue on the Virtual”


Photo Credit:
Rochers Carrés, 2008
Series of silver prints
Courtesy of the artist; Collection Barjeel Art Foundation, UAE; Collection Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE; Collection Société Générale, France; Collection MacVal, France; and Galerie Nagel Draxler
Photo: Kader Attia

Co-sponsored by the Townsend Center for the Humanities, International Consortium of Critical Theory, Arts Research Center, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Department of Anthropology, Center for Race and Gender, Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion and The Program in Critical Theory.