A native of Los Angeles, Shimon Attie earned an M.A. in psychology from Antioch University in 1982 and an MFA in 1991 from San Francisco State University. In his first major project, The Writing on the Walls, produced in Berlin, he projected slides of old photographs of life in the city's Jewish quarter before the Holocaust onto the sites where the Jews had lived--and from which they had been removed. His subsequent projects included Trains I and Trains II in Hamburg and Dresden, respectively, and Sites Unseen, a series of site-specific public installations in Krakow, Copenhagen, and Cologne. Attie's documentary photographs of these public projects have been exhibited at the Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst and the Museum for German History, both in Berlin; the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston; and elsewhere. He has received a number of awards for his work, including a Visual Artist Fellowship from the German Ministry of Culture in 1996 and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1993. Attie has published three books: Shimon Attie: Finstere Medine (Disreputable Quarter) (1992), The Writing on the Wall: Projections in Berlin's Jewish Quarter (1993), and Sites Unseen: Shimon Attie--European Projects (1998).
Attie's most recent projects, Between Dreams and Memory and Untitled Memory (Projection of...), are rooted, like his previous ones, in the recovery of memory and its incorporation into the present. Unlike his earlier projects, however, which were based in large part on the Holocaust, the new works have assumed a more personal approach and extend his study of memory into more varied cultural environments. In finding a method of imaging memory for examination in the present, Attie reminds us that accepting and processing our personal and cultural past are a vital to confronting the future.
Lisa HostetlerHandy et al. Reflections in a Glass Eye: Works from the International Center of Photography Collection, New York: Bulfinch Press in association with the International Center of Photography, 1999, p. 207.