Adel Abdessemed: Horror is my ally

08 May


Telle mère tel fils (Like mother like son), above and below, depicts two downed aeroplanes as soft, interconnected and almost human objects.  It is a surprisingly sensitive piece.  Surprisingly, because it forms part of Adel Abdessemed’s controversial (and insensitive) exhibition at David Zwirner in New York.

According toArt Fag City, apparently Adel has caused quite the fuss in NYC art circles with pieces such as his video piece Usine, a 1.5 minute recording that shows snakes, spiders, scorpions, fighting cocks and pitbulls all fighting with each other, in a grotesque scene of nature gone wrong. Kind of like Bum Wars, but with animals.


OK, so it’s not the sort of thing I’d have playing on the plasma when mum & dad pop around for dinner, but I understand what the artist is trying to say about the innate violence of nature, of which we are all participants.  Art Fag questions “how this is different from any other inane Youtube video, but for the fact that it’s on display at Zwirner”.  But isn’t that the point?  By elevating something so horrific and violent to ‘gallery status’, we are just making public that which is already a reality.  So why is something more horrifying just because it is on a gallery wall rather than a forest floor?

Abdessemed says “horror is my ally”.  And indeed it is.


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Posted by on May 8, 2009 in art, contemporary, looking


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