Adel Abidin enjoys twisting mundane and banal actions in order to lend them a totally different meaning, entering them into the wider symbolic domain of the dramatist.
His video piece Ping Pong fully encompasses this idea. The replacement of the net on a table-tennis table by a female nude, suddenly exposed to the impact of the ping pong ball, transforms a keenly fought game into a cruel situation charged with paradox. This red-head, with her milky skin and languorous attitude, does indeed evoke a painting of an odalisque or of an ancient statue of Venus or Psyche. However, the position of her hands, concealing her sex and her breasts, creates a posture which suggests self -protection rather than sensuality. The tightened outlines of her face capture a feeling of solitude and isolation, often present in the work of the artist.
Thus Adel Abidin develops an atmosphere of tension by juxtaposing contradictory elements: a harmless game with physical suffering, the apparent tranquillity of the female pose and the violence of the marks inflicted on her naked body. More than just a confrontation between two players, it is a series of latent conflicts which the artist seems to convey by this set-up: a conflict between masculine and feminine, between peaceful lethargy and a frenzy of intensity, between two powers greedy for victory and a silent victim. The scoring, given by an anonymous judge, a cold and apparently indifferent witness, lends a relentless rhythm to the match and to time, oblivious to the woman’s suffering at the centre of this brutal game.
As so often in Adel Abidin’s universe, the peculiarity of the situation is open to various interpretations and possible analyses: from poetic to political, social to personal…
Translated by Theodora Taylor