June 22, 2017 - Kunstkraftwerk Leipzig - Shimon Attie: Stateless
June 22, 2017

Kunstkraftwerk Leipzig

Shimon Attie, Stateless, 2017. Single-channel video installation, 600 x 250 cm. Photo: Shimon Attie. Courtesy of the artist. 

Shimon Attie
July 1–August 13, 2017

Opening: June 30, 7–9pm
Artist's talk: July 1, 3–4:15pm

Kunstkraftwerk Leipzig
Saalfelder Straße 8 b
04 179 Leipzig
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–6pm

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Stateless is the first German solo exhibition by NY-based artist Shimon Attie since he produced The Writing on the Wall in Berlin in the 90s. This exhibition 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. Stateless also involves 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 is named after a video installation in the exhibition, which tackles the experience of Syrian refugees who have fled their war-torn country and undertaken life-threatening journeys to Europe.  More broadly, this artwork addresses the reality that human existence is subjected to the uncontrollable forces of life and death.  The exhibition also includes two of 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) 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.

The video installation Stateless has been specially configured for the raw spaces of Kunstkraftwerk Leipzig, a reconverted power station. It consists of a panoramic screen suspended in its fomer boiler room. 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. As in Agatha Christie's novel, And then there were none..., all but one disappear. The last one standing seemed doomed to become a living monument to the thousands who have been left behind, dead or alive. 

Stateless raises questions of shared responsibility and solidarity in a climate where Germany has been criticized for their taking in more than one million Syrian refugees. Attie developed the material for this artwork while he was participating to BeHave, an artist-in-residency and exhibition program in Luxembourg. Attie 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. In addition, he has received several fellowships and awards, including the Guggenheim Fellowship, The Rome Prize, the Radcliffe Institute fellowship from Harvard University, and the Lee Krasner Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Curator: Stéphanie Delcroix

Exhibition produced by Kunstkraftwerk Leipzig

For more information and images, please contact Susanne Tenzler-Heusler: presse [​at​] kunstkratftwerk-leipzig.com or T +49 (0) 173 378 66 01

Kunstkraftwerk Leipzig
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