Magazine article Art Monthly

Adel Abdessemed-Trust Me: The Common Guild Glasgow April 11 to June 7

Magazine article Art Monthly

Adel Abdessemed-Trust Me: The Common Guild Glasgow April 11 to June 7

Article excerpt

Adel Abdessemed--Trust Me The Common Guild Glasgow April 11 to June 7

Adel Abdessemed rarely dwells on formal niceties. The Algerian-born artist's polemical and punchy work ranges from scrappy videos and one-minute drawings to monumental objects (he's previously exhibited a crushed airplane and a set of giant marble drill bits). Seemingly generated from a murky well of rage, these works are also energetic, ironic, politically engaged and refreshingly free of sanctimony. The complexity of this standpoint has befuddled both curators and the public alike: at last year's Venice Biennale, Abdessemed's entire practice was deracinated through a cherry-picked selection of his least provocative works. In March this year he was literally censored when his solo exhibition 'Don't Trust Me' at San Francisco Art Institute, which featured videos of animals being bludgeoned to death for the Mexican meat trade, was closed down only days after it had opened following violent threats to SFAI staff. Too much reality, it seems, is hard to swallow.

Abdessemed's first solo show in the UK, 'Trust Me', was elegantly installed at 21 Woodlands Terrace as part of the newly invigorated Glasgow International Festival of Contemporary Art. The venue also happens to be the home of artist Douglas Gordon, who appears in a short video work documenting an action-piece made in Grenoble earlier this year. Man, 2008, schematises a set of male rituals: the two artists remove their coats and ties; Gordon draws a new tie on his shirt; they shake hands affably. This sets the tone of the whole exhibition, which could be characterised as an account of the crises of modern man, both as subject and object of social practice.

Trust Me, 2007, is a video projection of an action by the improvisational singer David Moss, replete with vampire teeth dentures, caterwauling his way through a confused medley of national anthems and the workers' anthem The Internationale. Moss stands on a street, in front of some earthworks (symbols of manual labour and capital), like some roguish demagogue or a comic reflection of the capitalist vampire described by Marx. His ululation is fascinating in its manic and joyous Dionysian energy. Illustrative of this idea is La naissance de MohammedKarlpolpot, 1999--a simple signature and date, framed and hung on the wall. …

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