ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art, 09|17|2011 – 02|05|2012
Kader Attia
* 1970 Dugny (FR), lives and works in Berlin (DE)

Untitled (Plastic Bags), 2008–2011

In Kader Attia’s most recent work Untitled (Plastic Bags) the plastic bag itself becomes the stuff of which dreams are made. For decades, this piece of polyethylene was left over at the end of each shopping session. Although the triumphal march of the plastic bag has meanwhile collapsed for ecological reasons, it still retains something of its erstwhile promise of being able to have everything – one simply goes to the shop next door. No less caught up with the image of the colored bag, however, are associations with those smoldering suburban conflicts of migrants; the plastic bag, especially in Germany, is also intimately connected to shopping at a Turkish supermarket, or at street vendors etc.
In Untitled (Plastic Bags) Attia presented nine colored copies of this machine of (dis-) illusion, which he had collected in the Middle East, in Africa, South and North America and Europe. Before plastic became plastic it was filled with primary raw materials or basic foods: bottles of oil, rice, flour, cartons of milk etc. Once removed, the imprint of its former contents remains for a certain amount of time though begins to fade, until finally collapsing over the course of the exhibition. With a pronounced sense of irony, Attia develops his stance towards globalization and it’s all too frequently suppressed downside, to which belong the exploitation of raw materials no less than the presentation of the cultural preeminence of the West as opposed to the “other.” Only as imprint, as empty form, does, for example, rice leave traces of its identity on the global, everyday material of the plastic bag, per se, symbol of capitalist world order. (KB)


Untitled (Plastic Bags)
, 2008–2011