Through his work Adel Abdessemed aims to deconstruct the ideological, religious and cultural taboos he sees used to oppress individuals and their bodies across society. Creativity, but also sensuality and pleasure are for him a powerful means of emancipation.
In order to subvert the divestment so admired by conceptual artists, instigators of the use of neon as a medium, Nuit de Noces (Wedding Night) is copied in a cursive script. The resulting impression is in harmony with the colour: a warm soft pink which suggests tenderness and romance, but which also has an erotic appeal. An example of a piece achieved with great economy of means and yet charged with symbols and references, Nuit de Noces simultaneously evokes the signage of a sex shop and the wisdom of Scheherazade.
In 1996, Exile, a neon work in ice blue, communicated an urgency and suffering personally undergone by the artist on fleeing his country to preserve his freedom, if not his life. Here there is not necessarily an autobiographical connotation, more a formula used to reflect a universal truth. This idea had after all appeared before, some months previously in the artist’s work, suggested by a cigarette piercing through a curtain in the small flat that he shared with his partner in Lyon. This gesture could be an expression of harm but also suggests a joyous celebration of shared intimacy.
For in all cultures, the wedding night is as much a private event as a social rite of passage. On the face of it associated with voluptuousness and fun, as well as spirituality, there are times, in societies where female virginity is exploited as a collective concern, that it carries connotations of alienation and violence.
Translated by Theodora Taylor