The Decolonizing Agency of Repair.

Objects, Epistemologies and the Neoliberal Value System

With his latest film The Object’s Interlacing (2020), Kader Attia is presenting a polyphonic reflection on the potential role of the object in epistemological processes and the politics of restitution. In this conversation Attia talks with Nina Möntmann about the reflections on the object layed out in this film; the concept of repair, that Attia is following for over two decades now in his artistic work and its implications critical of the neoliberal value system; and La Colonie, the space Attia founded in 2016 in Paris, and which in the meantime has been transformed into several mobile and nomadic formats.

This interview is part of our “Museums in Motion Workshop Series”. Contributions in the form of podcasts will be uploaded every Tuesday. The series curates dialogues about the future of museums and colonial collections in a global context. Conceived as a workshop, it presents conversations in an ongoing debate with scholars, curators, activists and others across space.



For those who prefer to listen to the podcast on the go, we provide the episode as mp3 file here. After a right click on the audio bar, you can select ‘save file’ and download it to your device.

An extended version of the interview has been published in written form on Texte zur Kunst.

Kader Attia is a French-Algerian artist who explores the wide-ranging effects of western cultural hegemony and colonialism. Central to his inquiry are the concepts of injury and repair, which he uses to connect diverse bodies of knowledge, including architecture, music, psychoanalysis, medical science, and traditional healing and spiritual beliefs. Throughout his multimedia practice—ranging from sculpture to film installation—reparation does not mark a return to an intact state, but instead makes visible the immaterial scars of psychic injury. This approach is informed by Attia’s experience of growing up between Algeria and the Paris banlieues, and living several years between the Congo, Venezuela and Mexico.

Nina Möntmann is Professor of Art Theory at the University of Cologne, curator and writer and PI at the Global South Study Center (GSSC) at the University of Cologne. Before she has been Professor of Art Theory and the History of Ideas at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm, and curator at NIFCA, the Nordic Institute for Contemporary Art in Helsinki. Recent publications include Kunst als Sozialer Raum, (Cologne, König Books, 2002 / 2017); and the edited volumes Brave New Work. A Reader on Harun Farocki’s film ‚A New Product’, engl./dt. (Cologne, Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, 2014); Scandalous. A Reader on Art & Ethics (Berlin, Sternberg Press, 2013); New Communities (Toronto, Public Books/The Power Plant, 2009) and Art and Its Institutions (London, Black Dog Publishing, 2006). She is currently working on a book Decentering the Museum: Contemporary-Art Institutions and Colonial Legacy, London (Lund Humphries) 2022.