Kader Attia’s upbringing in a North African immigrant community, studies in Paris and Barcelona, and three years spent in Congo-Brazzaville and Kinshasa have informed a practice that explores geography, history, gender, politics and philosophy. In Kasbah, he presents a microcosm of contemporary reality. The series of shanty town roofs collected by the artist, reflecting the conditions in which the majority of the world’s population lives, are installed at different angles to make a 350-square-metre patchwork of corrugated iron, satellite dishes and other scrap materials. Visitors are invited to walk across them; but the difficulty of taking each cautious step over this uneven, variegated surface provokes a consideration of the successes and failures of the globalised economy and of the human ability to wrest a liveable existence from nothing. Walking tentatively over the work, one not only becomes part of it but also implicitly part of the economic and power matrix that creates these shanty towns.
Kashbah (2012) was presented in Building 140, in the Industrial Precinct of Cockatoo Island, for the 17th Biennale of Sydney (2012).