Shimon Attie is a visual artist making evocative work using photographs, video installations, new media, and works on paper. Concerned with questions of memory, place, and identity, Shimon Attie gives visual form to both personal and collective memories by introducing histories of marginalized and forgotten communities into the physical landscape of the present.
By Dimitris Lempesis
Photo: Kunstkraftwerk Leipzig Archive
Shimon Attie in his solo exhibition “Stateless” explores issues of flight, loss and belonging at a time when many immigrants are seeking refuge in Europe and are at risk of being banned from other parts of the Western world. The exhibition raises questions of shared responsibility and solidarity in a climate where the German government has been much criticised by detractors at home, but also abroad, for their taking in more than one million Syrian refugees. The installation “Stateless” tackles the experience of Syrian refugees who have fled their war-torn country and undertaken a life-threatening journey to Europe. More broadly, this work addresses the reality that human existence is subjected to the uncontrollable forces of life and death. The artist dedicated his initial film to “… the millions of individuals fleeing the wars in Syria and elsewhere, individuals who have gambled their futures by making the dangerous journeys to Europe in hopes of finding new lives. Seven of these individuals appear in this piece”. The video installation has been specially configured consists of a panoramic screen suspended in the former boiler room of Kunstkraftwerk Leipzig, a reconverted power station. The filmed sequences unfold as a series of slow-moving tableaux in which a group of young Syrian refugees act a metaphorical tale based on their individual experience of exile and flight. Engrossed in a game of roulette, the protagonists appear physically present but mentally absent: their deadpan expressions, slow movements and silence contrast with the brutality of their fate. No word is spoken and the ominous soundtrack oscillates between impressions of stormy seas and the pounding of an anxious heart, between the ricocheting of the roulette ball and the gripping of nails onto the tablemat. In addition to the video installation, the exhibition also includes photographs from Attie’s earlier projects “Facts on the Ground” (2013-14) that delves into the physical, political and psychological landscapes of Israel and Palestine, where the brokering of the two-state solution is still to be brokered and “The Writing on The Wall” (1991-92) that evokes the daily life of the less affluent part of Berlin’s Jewish community, those originating from Russia and Poland in the Scheunenviertel neighbourhood in East Berlin. The Nazis revoked their nationality in 1938, one of the alienating measures suffered by these communities, before they became persecuted, deported and eventually murdered in mass.
Info: Curator: Stéphanie Delcroix, Kunstkraftwerk Leipzig, Saalfelder Straße 8 b, Leipzig, Duration: 1/7-13/8/17, Days & Hours: Tue-Sun 10:00-18:00, www.kunstkraftwerk-leipzig.com