Kader Attia’s 2007 Untitled (Skyline) installation is composed of refrigerators of various sizes covered in mirrored tiles, placed in a dark room with black walls. It resembles a lively and dazzling metropolis at night.
Aesthetic, cultural, philosophical and social theories form the conceptual foundations of Attia’s installations, photographs and films. In this particular installation, he explores architecture’s role in shaping, moderating, and even controlling society’s behaviour, dreams and aspirations. While the constructions suggest success and greatness, there is a subtle critique implied in the human position and dimension in relation to this architecture. “With Untitled (Skyline) I wanted to overplay the American dream,” the artist says. “The skyline is an illusion, a mirage of reality, we see it from far away, by plane, but never from close because when you’re in it you can not see it anymore.” Attia also feels this work might generate an oppressive feeling because of the tiny allotment of space for humans, who are “the last bastion of resistance from the classical period to modern times.” The skyline might have once symbolized progress, optimism and aspiration, but the skyscraper no longer stands merely as a proof to this ideal. Instead, the typology has grown to symbolize capitalism, global anxiety, pasteurized cultural and national identities, population density, and most recently it eerily resonates with terrorism.