A nation’s phantom pain

A French-Algerian vision of reconciliation comes to post-150th Canada

Repair is the theme of Kader Attia’s current exhibition, The Field of Emotion, at the Power Plant in Toronto, an exhibition that comes to Canada not a moment too soon. A deep-diving meditation by a leading French-Algerian artist, it gathers new thinking about physical, emotional, and societal repair, extending to us a treasure house of new tools with which to think about trauma both individual and communal. It’s a subject that was much on our collective consciousness in 2017, our sesquicentennial year, and remains so in its aftermath.

Last year’s official celebrations—which included an open-air Bono performance on Parliament Hill and a giant rubber duck floating in Lake Ontario—were, of course, deeply troubling for Canada’s Indigenous peoples, who were invited to celebrate the institution of the very government that stripped them of their lands and their rights. For these communities, and those who seek...