Shimon Attie is a visual artist making evocative work using photographs, video installations, new media, and works on paper. “Concerned with questions of memory, place, and identity, Shimon Attie gives visual form to both personal and collective memories by introducing histories of marginalized and forgotten communities into the physical landscape of the present.”
Attie’s earlier work incorporated site-specific projects in an aim to reanimate the lost history of public spaces. Sites Unseen included life-sized slide projections in the former Jewish quarter of Berlin, underwater light boxes in Copenhagen, and laser projections of handwritten memories on the facades of tenements in New York. Attie has described these works, in part, as “a kind of peeling back of the wallpaper of today to reveal the histories buried underneath.”
When asked about his work in a 2012 interview in Jspace News, Attie said “in art school I focused on photography, but in my training, there was always a very porous boundary between a 2-dimensional photograph on a wall and 3-dimensional site-specific installations.”
In recent years, Attie’s immersive; multiple-channel video installations have been featured at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Wexner Center for the Arts, the de Young Museum, and the National Museum of Wales.
Attie was born in Los Angeles in 1957, received his B.A. from the University of California in 1980, his M.A from Antioch University in 1982 and an M.F.A from San Francisco State. Attie currently lives and works in New York. He has received numerous awards, including fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2008-2009) and the Pollack-Krasner Foundation (2006, 1998), a Cultural Lifetime Achievement Award in Visual Arts from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture (2005) and the Prix de Rome (2001-2002). In 2013 Attie was awarded the Lee Krasner Lifetime Achievement Award in Art.
Public collections holding Shimon Attie’s work include the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Centre George Pompidou, Paris; International Center for Photography, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Jewish Museum, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., among others. The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, organized a mid-career retrospective in 1999.
Jack Shainman Gallery has represented Attie since 1998. The exhibition White Nights, Sugar Dreams originated at the RISD Museum in (2000) and was shown at Jack Shainman Gallery in (2002). Other solo exhibitions at the gallery include The History of Another in (2004), a show of new video installations in (2008), and the multi-media exhibition People, Land, State in (2012).
SHIMON ATTIE NEWS
Shimon Attie’s MetroPAL.IS., an immersive, multiple-channel video installation, dramatically tackles the complex and intensely problematic Arab-Israeli conflict with characters cast from the Palestinian and Israeli communities in New York City. Dressed in outfits that reflect their varied lifestyles and professions, each of the performers reads from a document created by Attie that combines sections of the Israeli Declaration of Independence (1948) and the Palestinian Declaration of Independence (1988). This hybrid document reveals a surprisingly significant overlap between the two original texts.
Eight 65-inch (vertical) monitors encircle viewers with one larger-than-life-size character on each screen. The characters appear in poses reminiscent of classical sculpture or baroque painting, with an almost orchestral flow of sound and text among them, enhancing the dramatic impact of the work. The complex editing and post-production work integral to creating this symphony of voices and the interaction among the individual monitors was completed during Attie’s residency as a visiting artist in the Wex’s Film/Video Studio Program in 2010.
Throughout Attie’s career, his work has focused on the formative aspects of communities, drawing on history, memories, and the significance of place. In recent years, his practice has shifted away from the projection of historic imagery on public architecture, turning towards ambitious, multichannel installations, such as MetroPAL.IS. Attie notes that video, as a time-based format, “lends itself to the kinds of conflation of past and present which is central to my work. In addition, creating multiple-channel, immersive works allow me to activate a given space, which is also something central to my artistic sensibility.”
A free gallery guide with an essay by Jennifer Lange, curator of the Film/Video Studio Program and of this exhibition, accompanies the show.
MetroPAL.IS. was commissioned by The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum.