– Autumn/Winter 2018

Kader Attia: Voices of Resistance

Giovanna Zapperi

Kader Attia, Narrative Vibrations, 2017, mixed media. Installation view, ‘Viva Arte Viva’, 57th Venice Biennale, 2017. Photography: Simon Vogel. Courtesy the artist; Galleria Continua, San Gimignano/Beijing/Les Moulins/Habana; Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna; Lehmann Maupin, New York; and Galerie Nagel Draxler, Berlin/Cologne

The Power of the Voice

Kader Attia’s video Prosody (2017)references the way in which the written text arouses emotions. The notion of prosody, originally related to classical metrics, designates the study of a specific verse, its accentuation and the quantity and quality of phonetic units. In its contemporary usage, it also refers to the modulation of the voice’s duration, rhythm and intensity. Its meaning encompasses the fields of linguistics, musicology, poetry and psychology, as it concerns the ability to communicate emotions. From early childhood, human beings express their eagerness for company and attention: prosody is what allows a new-born child to connect to their main care giver –typically the mother – and to express hopes, needs or feelings, therefore making life meaningful. With the development of language, the prosodic rhythm of the voice becomes crucial for storytelling, and more broadly, in how we interact with each other. It contributes in giving a particular meaning, via musical or acoustic effects or techniques, to a piece of writing, most notably, in poetry. Prosody concerns the entwinement of language and the body, not only because the way we speak to each other

  1. See Rachida Madani, Tales of a Severed Head (trans. Marilyn Hacker), Cambridge, MA: Yale University Press, 2012.

  2. See Adriana Cavarero, For More than One Voice: Toward a Philosophy of Vocal Expression, (trans. Paul A. Kottman), Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005, p.132.

  3. K. Attia writes that these sound sculptures visualise the discoveries of German composer and physicist Ernst Chladni (1756–1827) of how some frequencies produce patterns that also exist in nature. See K. Attia, ‘Narrative Vibrations’, available at http://kaderattia.de/narrative-vibrations/ (last accessed on 6 May 2018).

  4. Ibid.

  5. Scheherazade, or Shahrazad, is a character and the storyteller in One Thousand and One Nights.

  6. See Clémentine Deliss, ‘Kader Attia: The Phantom Limb in Art’, in Kader Attia: Reflecting Memory, San Gimignano: Galleria Continua, 2016.

  7. On the concept of repair see Kitty Scott, ‘In Conversation: Kitty Scott and Kader Attia Discuss the Concept of Repair’, in Kader Attia, The Repair: From Occident to Extra-Occidental Cultures, Berlin: The Greenbox, 2014, pp.163–170.

  8. La Colonie was opened on 17 October 2016. The official statement reads that the space is a place of Savoir-vivre and of Faire-savoir (an untranslatable wordplay implying notions of life and learning, meaning that La Colonie is both a place of conviviality and knowledge production) founded by K. Attia, Zico Selloum and their families. Statement available at http://www.lacolonie.paris/le-projet (last accessed on 11 May 2018).

  9. Statement published on La Colonie’s website http://www.lacolonie.paris/le-projet (last accessed 29 May 2018).

  10. Demonstrations against the new labour code (the so-called loi travail) voted under the presidency of François Hollande in 2016, mostly attended by a white urban population, were repressed by the police with unprecedented brutality. The same can be said about this year’s student protests and occupation of several universities across the country.

  11. On 19 March 2017, a massive March for dignity and justice against police violence, promoted by the association of the families of the victims, gathered a number of organisations and activists struggling against everyday racism in France. The demonstration has marked a significant moment in France’s political landscape, despite the fact that no political force (including that from the Left) has been willing to take into consideration the demands coming from France’s postcolonial subjects during their concomitant campaigns for the 2017 elections. The official video calling for the march, featuring French rapper Kery James, activists and members of the victims’ families was filmed at La Colonie.

  12. As historian Enzo Traverso has argued, such recomposition can only happen within a more general awakening of a postcolonial Left, able to counter the widespread racism and colonial legacy in contemporary French society. See Enzo Traverso, Les Nouveaux visages du fascisme, Paris: Textuel, 2017, pp.134–36.

  13. On the whole episode see Samuel Earle, ‘Lords of Disorder’, Jacobin [online journal], 3 March 2017, available at https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/03/national-front-theo-luhaka-police-protest (last accessed 10 May 2018).

  14. Elsa Dorlin, Se défendre. Une philosophie de la violence, Paris: La Découverte, 2017, p.13.