Adel Abdessemed

‘Helikoptère’, 2007
Video on monitor, 3 min. (loop), color, sound, dimensions vary (aspect ratio 4:3)
black oil pastel on 10 wood panels

Version I : 491,2 × 716 × 1.3 cm
Version II : 487 × 610 × 1.3 cm

This three-minute video piece shows the artist dangling upside-down from a hovering helicopter as he makes a drawing in black oil pastel on planks of wood set on the ground. Given the swaying helicopter and gusts of wind, the artist’s body loses control of the act of drawing, and form becomes a trace of a physical, contingent experience.

The flipping of the body and its vertical axis corresponds here to the overturning of certain cultural canons and dicta linked to modernism, such as the predominance of vision and the verticalization of a painting as an object of contemplation. The horizontality overturns the standard system of pictures and history painting, given that the planks of wood on the ground have the same format as Géricault’s Raft of the Medusa. The painting is thereby turned into a “table,” into an arena which hosts the traces of uncontrollable movement and experience. The circular lines of the drawing record the movements and hazardous jolts imparted to the body—the lines no longer depict forms, but are rather the traces of emergent forms, a process that Abdessemed feels is inseparable from their sensory, phenomenological status.

Angela Megoni