Born in Algeria, in 1971, Adel Abdessemed
left his country following the outbreak of civil war in
the early nineties and in 1994 moved to France to study art. Since that time he has lived in various cities:
Paris, New York, Berlin and Paris again.
Developing an artistic vision that builds on numerous philosophical, political and sociological readings,
Abdessemed focuses his gaze on the flaws and contradictions in the contemporary world. His “acts,” as
the artist terms his works, take the form of sculptures, installations, videos and drawings: “My art makes
no claim to represent reality,” he says, “but simply to touch reality."
Practice Zero Tolerance
(2006) is a clay cast of a car vandalized during the 2005 riots in the French ban
lieues. The sculpture alludes to the policy of “zero tolerance” adopted by the authorities in Europe and
the United States. Far from being a mere replica of the car, however, the work brings into play far deeper
tensions: between the violence of the visual and the almost sensuous delicacy of the clay model, between the fragility and strength of the material, including the destructive force of fire and its creative
power (ceramic being an “art of fire”), and between current events and the archeology of part of the present, of which Practice Zero Tolerance remains a vestige.
(2010) is a cube made up of stuffed animals (salvaged from junk shops) assembled with wire
and then burnt. In his work Abdessemed often uses animals, the silent victims of all kinds of violence
(which succeed in inflaming public opinion more than the much worse injustices inflicted on human beings), but also witnesses to an experience that precedes language. By the choice of the cube, an iconic
allusion to the origins of modern art and also to that minimalism which the artist seems to see as the
antipodes of his own work, Abdessemed creates an extreme tension between the concept of power/abuse and the creative act.
(2006) consists of nine large circles whose diameters are exactly the height of the artist or
his partner, made out of razor wire of the kind used in the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay. The
perfection of the geometric form clashes with the threatening aspect of the material, with its connotations of harsh oppression and suffering. It creates an extreme tension between form and expression, the
conceptual and existential dimensions.
(2007) again plays on the ambiguity of the title (a social occasion or a Molotov cocktail?), pointing out the contradiction between the inoffensive nature of the music stands and the subject of the
drawings presented. The viewer’s gaze, passing from one image to another of this unusual, immobile flip
book, infuses it with the movement of a silent, minimalist revolt.
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