"Damascus rose on a Lebanese landscape," 2014, photograph.
Courtesy Kader Attia
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The Berlin-based Algerian artist treats repair as a sort of corollary of mimesis. One of the root concepts of Western cultural production, mimesis (like the more familiar "mimicry") traces its origins back to the ancient Greek term for art's imitating the natural world.Attia's A4 subdivides "Contre Nature" into four chapters that in some respects reflect the objects and images on display: "Mimesis As Resistance," "Kasbah – Beirut the Urban Condition," "Constructions, Reconstructions," and "Modernity's Debts"."Kasbah" reproduces innumerable photographs that look down on various shantytowns around the world – perhaps even the eponymous popular quarter of Algiers – as installation."Constructions, Reconstructions" deploys historical photos, sketches and photo collage.Collages include photos of (non-Caucasian, perhaps North African) men in contemporary urban attire, cutouts of transgender individuals applying makeup and samples of Hellenic statuary, with rough stitchesaffixed to the images, as if to suggest their repair.A pair of slideshows mingles headshots of mutilated First World War combatants (before and after the mimesis of "cosmetic surgery") with photos of figurative sculpture (folk and modern) and samples of traditional African flesh-scarring practices.Consulting Attia's A4 paper, though, you find the artist reads the lyrebird's practice as "repair".
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