Kader Attia

Centre National de la Photographie

LA PISTE D'ATTERRISSAGE (THE LANDING STRIP), 1997–99, is the name given to a deserted stretch of beltway at the northern edge of Paris by the Algerian transsexuals and transvestites who work there as prostitutes. It is also the name that French photographer Kader Attia has given to his color-slide installation about the lives of these several hundred “creatures” (as they call themselves) who have left Algeria under threat of murder, made their way clandestinely into France, and, for lack of working papers, “landed” on the sidewalks of the boulevard Ney in their wigs, miniskirts, and spike heels.

The fourteen-minute duration of La Piste d'atterrissage turns out to be just enough time to permit the repeated viewings, one after the other, that the intensity and the complexity of this work invites, if not demands. There are 156 images in all—a kind of collective family album of snapshots,

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