Adel Abdessemed: Dead or Alive

October 21, 2007–January 21, 2008

P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center presents Adel Abdessemed's first solo New York exhibition. Bringing together video and sculptural work, Abdessemed condenses dramatic gestures through the union of oppositional forces: individuality and the body politic, desire and death, and the sacred and the profane. Adel Abdessemed: Dead or Alive is on view in the second floor Kunsthalle gallery from October 21, 2007 through January 21, 2008.

Whether working with knives that have been turned in on themselves to create a field of fleurs du mal, oversized drill bits carved from black marble, a model of the luxury cruise liner Queen Mary created out of the recycled refuse of corporate culture or the front portion of an airplane folded like soft pastry, Abdessemed invokes the specter of destruction even as he celebrates its transformative energy. The boats and planes that appear in his work are both benign instruments of post-colonial global communion and empty vessels waiting to be filled with deadly meaning.

Like the sculptures, Abdessemed's videos function as vessels of meaning. The short staccato loops serve to relentlessly revisit a single act—a bare heel stomping a Coke can or a street cat remorselessly devouring a white mouse. On the one hand abrupt actions deliberately intended to challenge our perceptions of the forbidden and taboo, they also attempt to wring poetic meaning from our most quotidian exchanges: of nature and culture, life and death, love and cruelty. Adel Abdessemed (b. 1971, Constantine, Algeria) has been exhibiting his art internationally since 1997. He has had a solo exhibition at Musée d'art moderne et contemporain, Genève (2004) and participated in the 2003 and 2007 Venice Biennales, 2006 Dak'art Biennial, 2001 and 2005 Tirana Biennials, 2001 Yokohama Triennial, 2000 Busan Biennial, and Manifesta 3 (2000). In 2000–01 Abdessemed was part of the P.S.1 International Studio Program and was featured in the P.S.1 exhibition Uniform—Order and Disorder (2001). Abdessemed lives in Paris.


Adel Abdessemed: Dead or Alive is organized by P.S.1 Senior Curatorial Advisor Neville Wakefield.

The exhibition is supported by Cultural Services, Embassy of France in the United States.