Holy Land, 2006
The idea of a ‘Holy Land’ is a recurring theme in several religions: an idea of a better place that eventually will be reached and a promise that helps to endure the hard conditions of the present moment. In the past decades, Europe has often figured as a Holy Land for Africans faced with war and poverty. Of those that undertook the journey, tragically, many have died at sea before ever reaching the shore. It is estimated that 20,000 refugees have died at sea over the past twenty years, an average of eight people a day. This tragedy is not always present in our consciousness, as their bodies disappear to the bottom of the sea, outside of any nation state.
As part of a historical continuum, North African colonial soldiers have served in the European wars – over 30,000 African soldiers have lost their lives in World War I to protect France from the German invasion – but their descendants were never granted any rights to migrate to Europe, so the idea of Europe as a Holy Land lives on. Kader Attia's installation is a temporary monument that aims to offer a respectful burial to both the drowned refugees and the colonial soldiers, with a series of mirrors in the shape of a Muslim grave or a gothic window, directed towards the sea. As seen from the sea, the mirrors look shiny and attractive, but once approaching it is clear that they merely reflect reality. They embody the gap between fantasy and reality for the migrant, while the visitor, seeing oneself in the mirror, is temporarily included in the story and can get back out again.
Kader Attia has recently held solo exhibitions at The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada (2018), Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2018), SMAK, Gent (2017), Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany (2016). He participated in group exhibitions including Viva! Arte! Viva!, 57thArt Biennale, Venice, Italy (2017), Tamawuj, Sharjah Biennial, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (2017) and Documenta 13, Kassel, Germany (2012). In 2017 he received the Joan Miró Prize from the Joan Miró Foundation in Barcelona, Spain and the Yanghyun Art Prize from the Yanghyun Foundation in Seoul, South Korea. In 2016 he received the Marcel Duchamp Prize from the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, France.
Beach zone at Zeedijk 23, Middelkerke
- Tram stop: Middelkerke De Greefplein
- Cycling node: 60
- Walking node: 72