Adel Abdessemed
Also Sprach

‘Also Sprach Allah’, 2008
video on monitor, 2 min. 20 sec. (loop), color, sound, dimensions vary (aspect ratio 4:3)
black oil pastel on carpet
145 × 215 cm

This work is composed of two elements, a carpet and a video monitor. The latter shows an Iranian carpet attached to the ceiling of a room while Abdessemed lies on a piece of fabric held by a group of men in white shirts, who toss him into the air. With each thrust, the artist makes a mark in black oil pastel on the carpet, painfully trying to write words. The camera records the pauses as Abdessemed, lying flat on the floor, studies the ceiling and contemplates the progressive writing of the phrase “Also Sprach Allah.” The video monitor is usually exhibited near the carpet, which is hung on the wall with its perfectly legible phrase in black oil pastel.

The expression “Also Sprach Allah” and the performance refer literally to the words of Zarathustra in Nietzsche’s Also Sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zarathustra): “Lift up your hearts, my brothers, high, higher! And do not forget your legs!” Abdessemed expands Nietzsche’s expression by creating a polyphonic hybrid—the German title of Nietzsche’s book here welcomes the name of Allah, producing a reversal that stems from the link between one of the names of God and the text which most notoriously announced the death of God.

Angela Megoni