Adel Abdessemed

MIT List Visual Arts Center

Although he employs various media—videos, photographs, and sculptural installations—Adel Abdessemed insistently refers to all his works as “acts.” The term, in its brute directness, raises the question of how exactly Abdessemed’s art operates within the sociopolitical arena and what criteria should be used to evaluate it. For MIT’s recent exhibition, curator Jane Farver presented works made by the artist between 1994 and 2008 as one installation, emphasizing their cumulative force perhaps to obscure the paucity of their formal means. The surge of interpenetrating sounds, images, and sensations rendered the whole more important than the parts, and generated a visual and auratic experience bordering on the hysterical.

It was impossible to ignore the jarring dissonance of amplified, overlapping sound tracks—the heavy thud of the artist’s foot trampling a microphone lying on the street (Talk

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