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Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art

Reflecting Memory, 2016
HD video, 48', installation in collaboration with Vladimirs Jakušonoks; installation dimensions variable


Reflecting Memory is a cinematographic poem that presents interviews with surgeons, neurologists and psychoanalysts on the phenomenon of the ‘phantom limb’, the sensation and  subsequent hallucinosis that a missing body part still remains connected to the body following physical amputation. The most likely mechanism for this sensation is the operation of so-called ‘mirror neurons’, which send impulses in response to mimetic desire (René Girard). Beyond the scientific and political relevance of its inquiry, the work offers a journey through mimetic and hybrid phenomena, such as dub music (a genre that originated in Jamaica and is based on the subtraction of sounds). Referencing both intimate and collective injuries, and material and immaterial symptoms, the film expands beyond physical and individual amputation, harking back to the ghosts of contemporary history: the institutionalised slavery, colonialism, communism, and genocide of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The film proposes practices of mass physical therapy and cultural emotional care as antidotes for populations in need of historical repatriation. For Survival Kit 10 the film is presented along with a wooden installation that connects the film to its context in Riga. In collaboration with Vladimirs Jakušonoks, Attia has sourced the material from the historic Daugagrīvas fortress, it is a reference to Swedish Livonia and the turbulent history that shaped modern-day Latvia.


Attia investigates relationships between cultures that have historically been connected by colonisation and trade relations. His personal experiences of living in Paris, Algiers, Barcelona, Congo, South America and Berlin have informed his concept of repair and led him to explore methods for healing both physical and immaterial wounds. As driving forces in societies, the social tensions brought about by histories of colonisation affect collective and subjective development, shaping the ways people live together. Attia’s concept of repair involves the re-appropriation and reconstruction of side-lined narratives in order to highlight historical grievances. This corresponds with other post-colonial approaches to history, through which formerly colonised cultures are gaining recognition for their contributions to global cultural, scientific and economic development. Attia demonstrates that peripheral regions and cultures are entrenched within colonial centres through the processes of trade, migration and exchange, and that only one side of the resulting interdependent structure has historically been acknowledged.


Artist’s website: kaderattia.de