Une image que j’aimeAdel Abdessemed
Seen from behind, two women walk entwined down the dark narrow alley of a bazaar. The taller woman, dressed in a pale pink jellaba, is the art- ist’s wife, Julie. The other, in white, is his mother, Nafissa. Members of his family play an important role in Abdessemed’s work. His relationship to his mother was at the center of Nafissa (2006), a startling photograph in which she lifts and holds the adult Adel in her arms, as if by magic. Julie, meanwhile, has played several roles: dressed as a bride, she danced with a skeleton; or she took a stroll with their daughters; or she appeared on her own in the form of a carved pillar of salt.
With his title—Une image que j’aime (“a picture I love”)—Abdessemed makes it clear that he loves this picture—probably not least for its de- piction of the close relationship between the two women in his life. The pair displays a special grace. Julie walks like a light nymph on some Greek vase, one foot behind the other. The shorter Nafissa might be mistaken for Julie’s daughter, except that her gesture of support conveys a strength that Adel often likes to underscore. The two women are surrounded by people whose faces we cannot see: next to Julie are the hands of someone selling scented pink and purple flowers, echoing her jellaba; Nafissa is flanked by two young women in pale blue and white. The alley is so narrow that the lights are turned on in daytime; in the darkness we distinguish a small crowd of buyers as the two women, mutually supporting one anoth- er, move through the world with the elegance of classical antiquity. GC