adel abdessemed: who’s afraid of the big bad wolf

adel abdessemed: who’s afraid of the big bad wolf

‘hope’, 2011-2012 by adel abdessemed in ‘who’s afraid of the big bad wolf’ refugee boat and resin 81 x 96 x 228 inches courtesy the artist and david zwirner, new york

adel abdessemed: who’s afraid of the big bad wolf david zwirner gallery, new york, USA on now until march 17th, 2012

algerian-born and paris-based artist adel abdessemed has created ‘who’s afraid of the big bad wolf’ at david zwirner.

the installation, which inhabits both the 525 and 533 west 19th street spaces, is comprised of sculptural and video works which seek to transform mundane materials into an eloquent critique of the highly globalized modern world. the exhibition explores the concepts of violence and the spectator in the current global stage.

adel abdessemed: who’s afraid of the big bad wolf installation view of adel abdessemed ‘who’s afraid of the big bad wolf’ at david zwirner, new york courtesy the artist and david zwirner, new york

the boat in ‘hope’ was found abandoned on a beach in the florida keys of the united states of america. this type of vessel is typically used

for the transport of illegal immigrants from one country to another, pursing a new life in a new nation at the risk of their personal well-being.

abdessemed has filled the boat with black sacks cast in polyurethane resin from real stuffed garbage bags. the piece alludes

to the ominous painting ‘the wreck of hope’ by caspar david friedrich which portrays a boat having been wrecked amongst

a group of jagged icebergs. the artist believes the analogy between trash and former passengers of this repurposed vessel

will add a visually actualized representation of ‘truth’ rather than ‘hope’ to the ongoing political conversation about issues

of immigration and lack of humanity.

adel abdessemed: who’s afraid of the big bad wolf installation view of ‘coup de tête’, 2012, resin, 88 1/2 x 62 x 37 1/2 inches in the foreground with ‘who’s afraid of the big bad wolf’, 2011-2012, taxidermy, steel, and wire, 143 x 307 inches in the background courtesy the artist and david zwirner, new york

in ‘coup de tête’, abdessemed has created a sculptural representation capturing the moment in which french footballer zinedine zidane headbutted italian player marco materazzi during the 2006 world cup final in germany.the artist harnesses the obsessive interest in the personal events taking place in this sport, and in more general television culture, occurring outside of the confines of the set entertaining media. the sculpture speaks to the themes of violence, aggression and spectatorship present throughout the exhibition.

the wall-sculptural installation, ‘who’s afraid of the big bad wolf’, is the piece for which the installation is named. the massive work is comprised of taxidermy animals which have been burnt to a darkened red-black color palate. the alteration of the taxidermic wolves represent unnecessary casualties of war and the effect of bloodshed on civilians. abdessemed was influenced by the ‘who’s afraid of yellow, red and blue’ series by american painter barnett newman and the dimensions and themes of ‘guernica’ by spanish artist pablo picasso.

adel abdessemed: who’s afraid of the big bad wolf detailed view of ‘coup de tête’, 2012 in foreground with ‘mémoire’, 2012, video on monitor, 20 sec. (loop), color, sound, dimensions vary (aspect ratio 16:9) in the background edition 1 of 5, 2 APs courtesy the artist and david zwirner, new york

adel abdessemed: who’s afraid of the big bad wolf ‘l’avenir est aux fantômes’, 2011-2012 handmade glass 33 elements 98 x 224 x 223 inches

image courtesy the artist and david zwirner, new york

the massive large-scale, hand-formed glass microphone components of ‘l’avenir est aux fantômes’ (‘the future belongs to ghosts’ in english) are gathered in a group of thirty standing at a height taller than the christ-like sculptures of ‘décour’, positioned opposite of the work.

the piece is a reference to french philosopher jacques derrida, known for his characterization of many occurrences as ‘ghosts’.

alternately, the massive multi-elemental work is representative of transparency in communication and more specifically,

between governments and those who are governed.

adel abdessemed: who’s afraid of the big bad wolf installation view of ‘décour’, 2011-2012 razor wire four elements 88 x 68 1/2 x 16 inches

‘décour’ is a collection of four to scale representations of jesus on the cross. the piece references ancient history, religious iconography

and contemporary perceptions of these concepts. the work also maintains a modern and slightly removed sensibility in the use

of four figures rather than the three of the holy trinity. the fourth crucified christ is not a religious fetish, but rather relates to consumption.

each of the four forms of the piece are constructed from razor wire and modeled after renaissance painter matthias grunewald’s ‘crucifixion’

and displayed very near to the gallery goer, rather than the typical positioning of this figure, raised above its audience.

in the positioning and repetition of the four christs in ‘décour’, the viewer is able to more readily question their relationship

with the religious icon and the material from which they were formed.

adel abdessemed: who’s afraid of the big bad wolf detail view of ‘décour’ by adel abdessemed in ‘who’s afraid of the big bad wolf’ at david zwirner, new york all images courtesy the artist and david zwirner, new york

adel abdessemed: who’s afraid of the big bad wolf installation view of adel abdessemed ‘who’s afraid of the big bad wolf’ at david zwirner, new york courtesy the artist and david zwirner, new york

adel abdessemed: who’s afraid of the big bad wolf ‘la grande parade’, 2011-2012 charcoal on paper 40 drawings dimensions variable (drawings range from 23 1/2 x 31 1/2 inches) courtesy the artist and david zwirner, new york

the loose charcoal sketches of ‘la grande parade’ picture animals such as porcupines, birds, tortoises and weasels sporting sticks of dynamite strapped to their small backs. abdessemed conveys the connection between the first age of gesture found in cave drawings to the loose renderings of natural life accomplished in the present day.

adel abdessemed: who’s afraid of the big bad wolf installation view of adel abdessemed ‘who’s afraid of the big bad wolf’ at david zwirner, new york courtesy the artist and david zwirner, new york

  • I welcome Design Boom’s showcasing of more installation/art shows such as this. Thank you.

    Andre Seibel
    Feb 23, 2012

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