David Zwirner presents Adel Abdessemed’s first solo gallery exhibition in New York. The particular installation of the exhibition throughout the three main gallery spaces (519 W 19th st., 525 W 19th st., 533 W 19th st.) allows the visitors to set out their own path in a maze-like environment that nevertheless respects the autonomy of the individual artworks. RIO includes Abdessemed’s latest 2008 and 2009 drawings, photographs, videos and sculpture, which are of a strong political nature. Prostitute (2008) addresses religion through a number of copies of the Koran, the Tora and the Bible that were handwritten by prostitutes and Practice zero tolerance (retournée) (2008) consists of a mold of an impounded car from the 2005 violent uprisings in the Paris banlieues. Abdessemed has titled the show after his daughter with whom he shares the fascination with which “she contemplates the big animals in the zoo that are thirsty and hungry.” The exhibition runs through 9 May, 2009.
Adel Abdessemed: RIO
519,525 and 533 West 19th Street
Exhibition Page, Press Release and Biography [David Zwirner]
Exhibition Review highlighting Telle mère tel fils (2008) [Design Boom]
Biography and Discussion of Nature of Abdessemed’s Work [Re-Title]
Exhibition Review [Supertouch]
Exhibition Review II [NY Art Beat]
Article on Controversial Work by Abdessemed [National Coalition Against Censorship]
Video on Controversial Work by Abdessemed (graphic nature, in Italian) [Ribeiro Art]
Adel Abdessemed’s work explores how power, control and rebellion operate within contemporary cultures and societies to shape identities through war, death, violence and destruction. Curator and art critic Massimiliano Gioni has described his work as intensely sincere and nearly unbearable. Abdessemed’s Don’t Trust Me exhibition at the San Francisco Art Institute in 2008 was canceled after animal-rights activists had threatened staff members in outrage over video footage showing the killing of animals. Abdessemed also employs video or photography to document his performances, or -what he calls- “acts”. A sculptural remainder of the act is then added to the document to complete the work, for example, in Grand canyon (2008). His artistic practice is further characterized by the use of his environment as studio. Whilst living in Paris, Abdessemed made Nafissa (2006) which shows the artist being held in his mother’s embrace. Since the artist moved to New York in 2008, he has been capturing the urban environment of the city in, for example, Saturday (2008), Jasmine (2009) and Lincoln (2009), which can be seen in RIO.
Adel Abdessemed was born in Constantine, Algeria in 1971. He attended the Ecoles des Beaux-Arts in Algiers and Lyon in the eighties and nineties. From 1999 till 2000, Abdessemed took part in the residential artist program at the Cité International des Art in Paris, which was followed by the International Studio Program at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, where he had a solo show Dead or Alive in 2007. Abdessemed has been included in numerous exhibitions around Europe, North-Africa, the Near-East and Asia and was part of the 2007 Venice Biennale. His controversial artistic practice has caught the attention of both scholarly research and mainstream media.
By Gabriëlle (text) and Bijoux (photography) for ArtObserved