Adel Abdessemed
de flûte

‘Joueur de flûte’, 1995–96
Video projection, 30 min. 10 sec. (loop), color, sound
dimensions vary (aspect ratio 4:3)

In this video work, made in Lyon, a naked old man plays enchanting Berber music on a long wooden flute. The camera is placed very low, almost on the floor, making the musician look like a monumental statue, albeit one made vulnerable by a nudity that is in no way heroic. The flute player’s breathing mingles with the sounds of a melody whose lively pace is an invitation to dance. The music is festive, enlivened by the foot-tapping musician, whose weighty body acquires, at times, an unexpected lightness.

Joueur de flûte (“flute player”) is one of Abdessemed’s longest video pieces—the musician plays non-stop for thirty minutes. Messouad, the flute player, is an imam who ultimately agreed to perform after long discussions with the artist. Messouad appeared the following year in another video work by Abdessemed, Passé simple (1997).

Giovanni Careri