Adel Abdessemed: I am Innocent

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248 pages hardcover

First coming to widespread attention in 2000, the work of Adel Abdessemed has been generally understood as an intuitive and searing response to the convulsions shaking the contemporary world in its religious, political, economic and moral aspects. The artist has been said to re-appropriate the primal powers of violence and destruction by creating braided aeroplanes, a rolled-up fuselage, burnt-out cars moulded in terra cotta, rows of barbed wire… Installations, performances, drawings, sculptures, videos, photos - Abdessemed employs multiple media to register the signs of violence scattered across the world, to capture the hubbub of history and render it in images.

True as these views may be, this book and the accompanying major exhibition at the Centre Pompidou offer a thorough reappraisal of them. I am Innocent shows that history in its chaotic, convulsive and conflicting forms is not the object of Abdessemed's art but rather its material, which is thoroughly reworked, stylised and sublimated to the images of the world. Abdessemed's work belongs to a history of art that exceeds the narrow limits of the contemporary. Today's world may supply Abdessemed with his raw materials, but he subjects them to dream-like displacements and transformations.