1 July – 13 August 2017
Kunstkraftwerk Leipzig hosted the first German solo exhibition by NY-based artist Shimon Attie since he produced the celebrated project The Writing on the Wall in Berlin in the nineties. Stateless explored 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 also involved other communities, who lived, or are still living, in a situation of limbo, whether their predicament was caused by an ongoing conflict or the revocation of their citizenship and identity.
Stateless was named after an installation in the exhibition, based on a film in which a group of young Syrian refugees acts a metaphorical tale based on their individual experience of exile and flight. More broadly, this artwork addresses the reality that human existence is subjected to the uncontrollable forces of life and death. In addition to the video installation, the exhibition also included photographs from Attie’s earlier projects. Facts on the Ground (2013-14) delves into the physical, political and psychological landscapes of Israel and Palestine, where the two-state solution is still to be brokered. The Writing on The Wall (1991-92) evoked the daily life of the less affluent part of Berlin’s Jewish community, those originating from Russia and Poland whose nationality was revoked before they were deported by the Nazis.
Curated by Stéphanie Delcroix, the Stateless exhibition raised 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. Attie developed the material for the Stateless video installation while he was participating to BeHave, an artist-in-residency and exhibition programme based in a former steelwork site in Luxembourg. Attie sought and met recently arrived Syrian refugees and made a single-channel film on which the video installation Stateless is based. 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.”
Shimon Attie is an internationally renowned visual artist, whose work spans photography, video, site-specific installations, public projects, and new media. Attie’s work has been exhibited and collected by numerous museums, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art, The National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the Jewish Museum, New York, the Centre Pompidou, Paris, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, amongst many others. In addition, he has received several visual artist fellowships and awards, including the Guggenheim Fellowship, The Rome Prize, the Radcliffe Institute Fellowship from Harvard University and the Lee Krasner Lifetime Achievement Award.
Stéphanie Delcroix curated Stateless as part of her role as director of the Kunstkraftwerk’s Visual Arts programme for 2017 and 2018.