For two decades, Attie has made art that allows us to reflect on the relationship between place, memory and identity. In many of his projects, he engages local communities in finding new ways of representing their history, memory, and potential futures, and explores how contemporary media may be used to re-imagine new relationships between space, time, place and identity. He is particularly concerned with issues of loss, communal trauma and the potential for regeneration.
In earlier works, Attie has used contemporary media to re-animate architectural and public sites with images of their lost histories, and how histories of marginalized and forgotten communities may be visually introduced into the physical landscape of the present. These works ranged from on-location slide projections in Berlin’s former Jewish quarter, to underwater light boxes in Copenhagen’s Borsgraven Canal, to sophisticated laser projections illuminating the immigrant experience on tenement buildings on New York’s Lower East Side, Attie has described these works, in part, as “a kind of peeling back of the wallpaper of today to reveal the histories buried underneath.”
In more recent years, Attie has created a number of multiple-channel immersive HD video installations. These have included a commission by the BBC and the Arts Council of Wales to create a 5-channel video installation on the occasion of the 40 year anniversary since the Aberfan disaster, when the village became ‘famous’ after having lost nearly all of its children in a manmade avalanche that buried Aberan’s only elementary school. Attie also created Racing Clocks Run Slow: Archaeology of a Racetrack, a piece inspired by the former Bridgehampton Auto Racetrack in Bridgehampton, Long Island. He has also recently completed a commission from San Francisco’s de Young Museum to create a new work of art. The result was a 3-channel video installation, Sightings: The Ecology of an Art Museum, which deals with the heightened moment of mutual encounter between art viewer and art object. Attie is currently working on MetroPAL.IS., an 8-channel video installation in-the-round for the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum that involves members of the Israeli and Palestinian communities living in New York City. MetroPAL.IS will be on view from Jan. 30-May 30, 2011.
Attie’s work has been shown in group and solo exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world, including at The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; and The Miami Art Museum, among many others. A mid-career retrospective was organized by Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art. Four books have been been published on Shimon Attie’s work: The Attraction of Onlookers: Aberfan – An Anatomy of a Welsh Village; The Writing on the Wall: Projections in Berlin’s Jewish Quarter; Sites Unseen: Shimon Attie’s European Projectsj; and The History of Another. In addition, several films have been made on Attie’s work, and have aired on PBS, the BBC, and ARD. Mr. Attie has received 9 yearlong visual artist fellowships, including from the John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the American Academy in Rome (The Rome Prize), The National Endowment for the Arts, The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and Kunstfonds (Germany’s NEA equivalent).
Shimon Attie received his MFA degree in 1991. Since that time, Attie has received more than 20 commissions to create new works of art in more than ten countries around the world.
Attie recently won a competition and commission from the city of San Francisco, and its Arts Commission, to create a large scale artwork that memorializes San Francisco Police Officers who have fallen in the line of duty.