The 2022 edition of one of Germany’s top art exhibition will be organized not by an art historian or a curator but an artist. Kader Attia, an artist who has earned international acclaim for his work focused on the lingering legacies of colonialism, will helm the next Berlin Biennale, due to open in 2022. He is the first artist to curate the biennial since 2016, when the collective DIS organized a polarizing edition focused largely on art about digital technologies.
In his sculptures, videos, and installations, Attia, who was born in France to Algerian parents, has turned his attention on colliding histories and the aftermath of centuries’ worth of violence wrought by European nations such as the one he has long called home. His interest, he has often said, is the concept of “repair,” which he once defined as “an endless process of intellectual, cultural, and political adjustments that humanity carries on in parallel with its natural process of evolution.”
Attia has been a mainstay on the biennial circuit for the past two decades, with his art appearing in editions of the Venice Biennale, the Shanghai Biennale, the Busan Biennale in South Korea, the Dak’Art African Art Biennale in Senegal, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in India, and many other notable exhibitions. In 2016, he won the Prix Marcel Duchamp, France’s highest art prize. Attia also ran La Colonie, an art space cofounded with restauranteur Zico Selloum, from 2016 to 2020.
Posts on social media announcing Attia’s appointment did not reveal a theme for the 2022 edition, though if it is similar to his art, its focus will likely be on crisscrossing lineages. That would put it in line with the 2018 Berlin Biennale, helmed by Gabi Ngcobo, which addressed the manifold ways that postcolonial conditions shape the present. Last year’s Berlin Biennale—one of the few biennials worldwide to take place in 2020—was curated by María Berríos, Renata Cervetto, Lisette Lagnado, and Agustín Pérez Rubio and themed around fragility and mending.