EXIT, one of two site-specific works by Algerian artist Adel Abdessemed (b. 1971, Constantine, Algeria) commissioned as part of an inaugural city-wide contemporary art exhibition staged in Beppu, Japan.
Adel Abdessemed is a prominent figure of the international art scene. From drawing to video, from sculpture to installation, Adel probes in the wounds of our present. The Algerian-born, Paris-based Abdessemed works within a wide range of media (drawing, video, photography, performance, and installation), transforming everyday materials and images into unexpected, charged, and sometimes shocking artistic declarations. He pulls freely from myriad sources – personal, social, and political to create a visual language that is simultaneously rich and economical, sensitive and controversial, radical and mundane. Many situations created by Abdessemed are based on singular and deliberate actions, or, as he calls them, acts, which are testified, more than documented, with videos and photographs, and are often later juxtaposed with a sculptural remainder from the action itself.
EXIT takes language as its object. It affects a simple change of letter in the lighted signs widely used to indicate a way out: exit becomes exil (“exile” in French). It plays on the sign’s status of symbol, creating another word/image whose slight difference from the original triggers surprise. The resulting work is placed at the entrance of an exhibition venue, where it marks a line to be crossed. The word “exile” alludes to the artist himself, forced to leave Algeria in 1994, while the association with “exit” signs also evokes the act of crossing borders, a liberating act central to Abdessemed’s art.