While other artists may produce work that is hygienic in its uttering of a critique, Adel Abdessemed’s oeuvre distinguishes itself by feeling conceptually graphic in its representation of violence.
Whether simplistic or not, Adel Abdessemed has experienced the violence apparent in his work growing up during the civil war in the 1990s in Algeria. For those of us who are fortunate enough to never have seen or felt atrocities, such images remain static. In the works of Abdessemed they become alive, graspable for the fraction of a second.
Violence is not an easy subject to be spoken about publicly. It is uncomfortable and hence often silenced, especially in large parts of the Western world for whom violent actions are performed and experienced by ‘the others’—at least in theory.
In French the word ‘crie’ isn’t easily translated to the English crying; it is a yell, a scream, a shout, a call, a crow, a bawl—a way to make loud noise. Every medium from sculpture, photography, video and painting to photography culminates in a climatic act.
In a show at the San Francisco Art Institute in 2008 he presented a video titled ‘Don’t Trust Me’ in which six animals are killed sharply by a single shot into the head. Although the real violence occurs in supermarkets and on plates, the show was shut down after vehement protests from animal rights activists.
‘It is not me who is violent. The world is violent.’ he said once as if to explain the obvious.