Nadia Kaabi-Linke was born in Tunis, Tunisia, 1978, and raised in Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates. She graduated from the University of Fine Arts, Tunis, in 1999, and earned a PhD at Université Paris-Sorbonne in 2008.
Kaabi-Linke has had solo exhibitions at Centro de Arte Moderna, Fundacao Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon and the Mosaic Rooms, London in 2014, as well as Dallas Contemporary, Texas in 2015. Selected group exhibition highlights include shows at Bahrain National Museum, Manama, Nam June Paik Art Center, Seoul and Museum of Modern Art, New York, all in 2013; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark in 2014; and Marta Herford Museum, Germany and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, both in 2016. She has participated in numerous biennales, including Venice Biennale 2011, Liverpool Biennial 2012 and Kochi-Muziris Biennial, Kerala, India 2012.
Growing up between Tunis, Kiev, and Dubai, and now residing in Berlin, Kaabi-Linke’s personal history of migration across cultures and borders has greatly influenced her work. With subtlety and concision, her works give physical presence to that which tends to remain invisible, be it people, structures, or the geopolitical forces that shape and control them. Kaabi-Linke takes inspiration from the forgotten or misused urban spaces around her.
No one harms me unpunished takes as its basis a Scottish legend of a dark and foggy night when Viking looters were raiding a Scottish town. The night watch dozed off and was no obstacle for the invaders. Suddenly, a Viking stepped barefooted on a thistle and couldn’t forbear a yell. The thistle got broken, but the outcry woke up the townsfolk who then drove the assaulters back. In this sense the thistle became a symbol of Scottish regiments, rugby teams and conservative Men’s club in Great Britain. In this work Kaabi-Linke re-visits the heroic narrative behind this national myth through a woman’s perspective. While adopting the thistle as a metaphor for passive resistance, the work addresses a state of oppression and abuse which still is quite common but disregarded in modern societies, empowering a different understanding of conflict lines between men and women.