Adel Abdessemed
L’Âge d’or

‘L’Âge d’or’, 2013,
copper plated in gold,
113 × 188 × 4.5 cm

A bas-relief of gold-dipped copper shows Abdessemed’s four daughters at play. One is sitting on a skateboard, another holds a wheelbarrow, while the two others play together, the elder taking the younger by her feet. This scene of everyday happiness glitters thanks to its polished, gilded surface. The “golden age,” L’Âge d’or, that legendary era of bliss, is not only a primal era predating history but also a utopian vision on the horizon of history itself—a timeless condition of peace and happiness. The content of this harmonious scene is matched by its form, for gilded grounds have represented the color of divine timelessness ever since the Middle Ages. Meanwhile, the height of the relief, 113 centimeters, is identical to a work by Monsù Desiderio, Hell (1622), subtly and implicitly nudging the work toward the darker realm of damnation. The various forms historically taken by depictions of the legendary golden age, such as gold grounds and bas-reliefs, are here conflated into a family bliss that abandons all individualization and strict biographical reference in order to attain, through these formal revivals, the horizon of timelessness.

Angela Megoni