Kader Attia Nabs Marcel Duchamp Prize

It's France's most prestigious art award, and comes with a €35,000 cash prize.

The artist Kader Attia has been awarded the 2016 Prix Marcel Duchamp, France’s most prestigious art prize. The winner, decided by a jury of collectors and museum directors, was announced yesterday, October 18.

In his work, the French-born artist of Algerian heritage explores different cultures and questions western hegemony. In recent years, his practice has centered on the concept of repair.

Attia was chosen over three other shortlisted artists: the Paris-born Yto Berrada, German Ulla von Brandenburg, and Barthélémy Toguo from Cameroon.

Installation shot of Kader Attia's Reflecting on Memory (2016). Photo by Georges Meguerditchian, courtesy of Centre Pompidou.

Installation shot of Kader Attia’s Reflecting on Memory (2016). Photo Georges Meguerditchian, courtesy of Centre Pompidou.

The Marcel Duchamp Prize has been granted to a French artist or artist living in France each year since 2000. Founded by the Association for the International Diffusion of French Art (ADIAF), the prize has been organized in partnership with the Centre Georges Pompidou since its inception, and with FIAC since 2005. Previous winners include Thomas Hirschhorn (2000), Tatiana Trouvé (2007), Cyprien Gaillard (2010), and Melik Ohanian (2015).

This year, the Centre Pompidou dedicated an exhibition to the work of all four shortlisted artists. While each artist is recognized with 100-120 square meters (1076-1291 square feet) of space inside the distinguished contemporary art institution, only the winner receives the €35,000 ($38,000) endowment.

Attia’s contribution to the Pompidou show is called Réfléchir la Mémoire, (Reflecting on Memory). The installation of sculpture and video focuses on the “phantom limb,” the (often painful) sensation felt by amputees, that their missing limbs are still attached. The work drew parallels between this psychological sensation, and traumatic historical memories, like those of colonialism, genocide, and slavery, that are passed on from generation to generation.

The nominees and winner of the Prix Marcel Duchamp are chosen by a selection committee of ADIAF-affiliated collectors, and an international jury comprising collectors and museum directors, this year from France, Germany, Spain, and the UK.

The exhibition of the works of the four nominees of the 2016 Prix Marcel Duchamp is on view at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, until January 30, 2017.


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