press release

Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo presents Les ailes de dieu, the first solo exhibition in Italy for French-Algerian artist Adel Abdessemed (b. 1971 Costantine) and one of his biggest shows to date.

The exhibition, curated by Francesco Bonami, features a powerful line up of video, photography and installation works of a provocative and subversive nature. Abdessemed has earned the title of enfant terrible since the beginning of his career for the shocking, controversial content of his works, often based on concepts of sex, religion and politics.

In a very raw, direct language, Abdessemed tells stories of violence and gives voice to the upset provoked by racial, religious, social and geographical differences, illustrating a contemporary society inflicted by abuse of power and aggression. He sets the scene with fierce works of great visual and emotional impact, reminding us of the terrors and fears brought about by our war-struck modern culture.

The central issues in his work are integration, racism, sexuality and the overcoming of strong taboos imposed by the religions that he interprets in a cross-sectional manner, expressed through a variety of media, from video and photography, drawing and painting, to performance and installation.

The exhibition offers a wide selection of works, including some new pieces presented at Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo for the first time:

In Nedjma (2009), Abdessemed, hanging from a flying helicopter, paints an enormous five-pointed star. A frequently recurring image in his works, this symbol is charged with multiple references, as it is traditionally associated with national, political and religious identities. The act of painting while hooked to a helicopter turns the complexities of creation, be they artistic, political, or philosophical in nature, into a personal, bodily experience.

In Les ailes de dieu I and Les ailes de dieu II (both 2009), Abdessemed asked two disabled people, one without arms, the other without legs, to put themselves in the same position, to face restrictions and limitations, to try to express themselves in spite of everything.

Another new work in the show is Usine (2009), a video depicting a fight scene in the animal kingdom. We see common animals such as dogs, roosters and rats as well as wild animals such as snakes, scorpions and deadly spiders battle it out in an arena. Moments of vigilance and tension are alternated with explosions of aggression and violence.

As suggested in the title of the video - factory - the scenes prompt reflection on man in the modern world, current affairs and the amount of violence produced on a global scale.

As well as representing a form of political stance and refusal to accept life's restrictions, Abdessemed's works bring out evocative and intense representations of reality, transmitting the true instability caused by terror and creating a strong tension between the aesthetics of an image and the violence in the idea that it projects.

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Adel Abdessemed
Kurator: Francesco Bonami