An artist's book gathering reproductions of charcoal drawings of bodies suspended in the empty surface of the paper (limited edition box set).
Adel Abdessemed's art undertakes a full and stubborn engagement with freeing the image from formal demonstrations, so as to go straight to the real—that is to say, to substantial trauma and fantasy–very far from any pretention of representing "reality" or sublimating the "imaginary." AIR is an artist's book gathering reproductions of charcoal drawings of bodies suspended in the empty surface of the paper, floating into a non-place, out of time, as if escaping, flying, dropping, disappearing, or dying. The works revisit the usual definition of drawing as a composition of lines; they are traces, shadows, scratches, interstices, gaps, and opacities that offer a unique experience of the density and evanescence of the (in)visible. A poem by Ocean & Wavz echoes Abdessemed's drawing practice. This publication is produced and supported by the Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, on the occasion of the 2022 exhibition Adel Abdessemed: An Imperial Message.
Adel Abdessemed (born 1971 in Constantine, lives and works in Paris and Berlin) deconstructs identity
codes, tackling head-on the tensions that
permeate our society.
His works, with their
typical simplicity—sculptural installations, drawings,
photographs, videos and performances—echo
precise facts and familiar situations, but go
beyond narrative commentary and militant
criticism. Adel Abdessemed questions, among
other things, the social and economic status
of the artist in a system where his foothold
is slight, by shrewdly keeping a distance
in a gesture of subversive and committed
Abdessemed refuses to be limited to a single ideology.
In his early works he passionately tackled religious, sexual, and taboos subjects and his later exhibitions have often focused on the theme of global violence. In an interview with Elisabeth Lebovici
he stated, "I do not live between two cultures. I am not a postcolonial artist. I am not working on the scar and am not mending anything. I am just a detector … In the public sphere, I use passion and rage. Nothing else. I don't do illusions."
Sometimes reduced to a simple word, as in "Mohammedkarlpolpot" (1999), a condensation of names evoking totalitarism and religion, and sometimes complex and monumental installations such as "Habibi" (2004), a suspended skeleton of 17 meters propelled by a jet engine, Abdessemed's practice belongs to a new generation of artists who appeared recently on the French art scene, looking to offer another perspective on culture and identity.