Adel Abdessemed

‘Exit’, 1996–2009,
Yellow neon, 9 elements,
dimensions vary

Exit is the first work by Abdessemed to take language as its object. It effects 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.

Giovanni Careri