Reappropriation, as artist Kader Attia sees it, “is an endless exercise of exchange among cultures, and I have come to the conclusion that there can only be such a process when there has initially been a ‘dispossession’.”
Attia’s main goal is to reveal the cultural gap between the western and non-western worlds, through different understandings of the aesthetics of repair. Untitled (Signs of Reappropriation) consists of two empty water bottles that were adapted and used as flip-flops by their former owner. The artist found them washed up at a North African beach, the departure point for many refugees who want to leave Africa and reach Europe in a hope of a better future. The bottles are displayed in a museum’s glass cube, in a clear reference to European Modernism. The piece evokes current European immigration policies towards former African colonies; it is an emblematic work within Attia’s lifelong artistic research on repair, appropriation and reappropriation between African and western cultures.