Adel Abdessemed

‘Odradek’, 2011
video projection, 7 min. 4 sec. (loop), color, music by Silvia Ocougne
metal case, camel wool, mexican masks
dimensions vary (aspect ratio 16:9)

The name of a star-shaped spool of thread, Odradek is the protagonist of a tale by Franz Kafka; this mysterious, extremely mobile creature is impossible to catch. Abdessemed retained the idea of the mobile thread of this strange spool-creature for the title of his work.

In Abdessemed’s studio, several belly dancers move to the rhythm of Oriental music. The upper part of their bodies is entirely covered in a cape of white camel wool, while the lower part is naked and carries the artist’s signature on one side. Framed by close-ups, they appear at moments as beautiful, desirable bodies, at other moments as more abstract shapes wrapped in white hoods. The dancers unravel the fabric progressively, pulling on the threads, until the enveloping fabric is completely undone, revealing hood-masks already devised by Abdessemed in Silent Warrior (2010), but which here hide the dancers’ heads. With a final gesture they uncover their faces, displaying the ultimate, total nudity of their bodies. Abdessemed here returns to the theme of unveiling, present in his earliest videos (Ombre et Lumière, 1994; Chrysalide, ça tient à trois fils, 1999) but this time makes it a collective experience in which women inhabit the space together and proceed to unveil themselves in an autonomous way.

Angela Megoni