The exhibition shows sculptures, photos, videos and installations by the Algerian-French artist Kader Attia. His first exhibition in German-speaking Switzerland revolves around Europe’s colonial past and its consequences.

Switzerland and the restitution of African artefacts


CHF 16.–/11.– (concessions and groups)
Free admission for members and children and young people under the age of 17. Tip : Senior (AHV) discounts every Wednesday


Note for groups

We look forward to welcoming you to the Kunsthaus. For organizational reasons, prior registration is required., +41 44 253 84 84

Kader Attia was born in 1970 to Algerian parents in a suburb north of Paris. Now working in Berlin and Paris, he draws on the experience of living in two cultures as the basis for his artistic practice.

New Video Installation

At the centre of the exhibition ‘Kader Attia. Remembering the Future’, which comprises a total of 38 works, is the new video installation ‘The Object’s Interlacing’ (2020), which Attia has created specially for the Kunsthaus Zürich. In it, he addresses the much-debated topical issue of ‘restitution’ of non-Western, especially African artefacts. The work is an attempt to delve deeper into this complex subject. It includes the voices of historians, philosophers, activists, psychoanalysts and economists. Kader Attia gathers the varying standpoints together, without apportioning blame, in order to achieve a nuanced analysis of the topic.

Kader Attia, The Object‘s Interlacing, 2020, Installation view Kunsthaus Zürich, 2020, Courtesy of the artist © 2020 ProLitteris, Zurich
Kader Attia, Indépendance Tchao, 2014, Installation view Kunsthaus Zürich, 2020, Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Nagel Draxler © 2020 ProLitteris, Zurich
Kader Attia, The Object‘s Interlacing, 2020, Courtesy of the artist, © 2020 ProLitteris, Zurich
Kader Attia, Culture, Another Nature Repaired, 2014–2020, Installation view, Kunsthaus Zürich, 2020, Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Nagel Draxler © 2020 ProLitteris, Zurich
Kader Attia, La Mer Morte, 2015, Installation view Kunsthaus Zürich, 2020, Courtesy of the artist, Galerie Nagel Draxler and Regen Projects, photo: Franca Candrian, © 2020 ProLitteris, Zurich

Public guided tours

Public guided tours in German take place on 29 August at 1 p.m. and 29 October at 6 p.m.
Cost: admission to the exhibition + CHF 6.–/CHF 4.– (Members)

Private guided tour

Group size: max. 12
Languages: German, English, French, Italian, Dutch
Cost: admission to the exhibition + CHF 190.– (German) / CHF 220.– (other languages), duration: 1 hour

Requests should normally be submitted at least a week before your desired date.

Colonialism and its legacy

Kader Attia has been concerned with Europe’s colonial past and its after-effects for many years. In the first room of the exhibition he presents a series of collages and researches that explore the links between modern architecture and the history of colonialism. This interplay is strikingly symbolized by the large sculpture ‘Indépendance Tchao’ (2014), which references the now-abandoned 1960s ‘Hôtel de l’Indépendance’ in Dakar. It is made out of old metal filing boxes used by the French colonial police in Algeria during the war of independence to collate information on the rebels.

Structural violence and racism

‘The Body’s Legacies. The Post-Colonial Body’ (2018) tackles structural violence against black bodies. The impetus for the video came from an incident that occurred in a Paris suburb in February 2017, in which a young black man, Théo Luhaka, was beaten and raped with a truncheon during a routine stop by the police. Kader Attia uses this brutal manifestation of French state power as the basis for a reflection on what the body of formerly colonized and enslaved peoples has become – an issue of urgent topical relevance given the tragic death of George Floyd in the US.

'Repair' and Kader Attia at the Kunsthaus

The theme of ‘injury’ and ‘repair’ plays a central role in Kader Attia’s work. ‘Repairing’ something means restoring it to its former state; but for Attia, the word also extends to reparation – making amends for a previous wrong. He plays with this double meaning, investigating the various concepts that lie behind the term in both the Western and the non-Western world. Attia presented a striking work on the subject at documenta (13) in Kassel in 2012, where his large-scale installation ‘The Repair from Occident to Extra-Occidental Cultures’ filled an entire hall. Among other elements, it comprised wooden busts of people with disfigured, ‘broken’ faces. These ‘gueules cassées’ were soldiers who survived the First World War but were scarred for life by the terrible wounds they suffered. Kader Attia travelled to Africa with photos of the injured that he had found in German and French historical archives and, working with traditional craftspeople, sculpted busts from the photos in the former colonies. The work deals with the horrors of war but also references the relationship between Western modernity and Africa – and turns history around. The Kunsthaus Zürich purchased one of these busts for its collection in 2015 and has since added further works by the artist. They are now on display in the exhibition, alongside new works as well as loans from other museums and from private collections.

Curator: Mirjam Varadinis

Supported by Swiss Re – Partner for contemporary art, the Yanghyun Foundation, the Dr. Georg and Josi Guggenheim Foundation .


Image above:

Kader Attia, Culture: Another Nature Repaired, 2014 (detail), installation view: Musée cantonal des beaux-arts, Lausanne, 2015, photo: Nora Rupp, courtesy of the artist, © 2019 ProLitteris, Zurich

Kader Attia Photo © Camille Millerand

Accompanying programme

Attia is not only an artist but also an activist. Until recently, he ran a discourse and exchange platform in Paris, in which people from a wide range of cultures and social backgrounds participated. Together with exhibition curator Mirjam Varadinis, Kader Attia has conceived an accompanying programme for the Kunsthaus Zürich:

Artist talk

With Kader Attia and exhibition curator Mirjam Varadinis. In English.
Sunday 13 September, 11 a.m. Kunsthaus Zürich, admission CHF 10 / CHF 8 (concessions).

The event will be livestreamed and later available on our YouTube-channel:

‘Postcolonial Switzerland’ symposium

This symposium examines the colonial history of Switzerland. Although it never had any direct colonies, Switzerland was implicated in the colonial project in a wide variety of ways. The event considers ideological and cultural aspects as well as economic involvements, and their ongoing repercussions in the present day. With Patricia Purtschert, Noémi Michel, Bernhard C. Schär, Fatima Moumouni and others. In German.
Sunday 1 November, 2 p.m.

The event will only take place virtually via our YouTube channel:

Supported by: