Adel Abdessemed

Deep stroke, 2014

1 min. 13 sec.

music by Jean-Jacques Lemêtre

A bare-footed young woman, actress Salma Hayek, crushes a watermelon with a single stamp of her heel. The action, which takes place at the edge of the Saint-Martin canal in Paris and is accompanied by the waltzing strains of an accordion, is projected in a frame-by-frame manner that underscores the transition from the moment of decision to execution of the act. Cut in two by the blow, the watermelon explodes, ejecting its red pulp and juice. Half the melon rolls off screen, while the woman’s head, now veiled by her hair, occupies the center of the screen, underscoring the alarming analogy. Despite the sublimated replacement of her head by a watermelon, the permanent and definitive nature of the violent act suddenly emerges. The woman’s preparation for that act, although brief, offers the glimpse of a preconceived plan a-radical, fully considered move rather than a sudden impulse. – Text by Giovanni Careri

Adel Abdessemed  (
b.1971 in Constantine, Algeria. Lives and works in Paris, France) studied in Batna and Algiers before graduating from the École nationale des Beaux-Arts de Lyon in 1998. His work has been presented internationally at different venues, including MoMA P.S.1., New York; San Francisco Art Institute; MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin; Parasol Unit, London; Mathaf: Museum of Modern Art, Doha; Centro de Arte Contemporáneo, Malaga; Musée des Beaux-Arts, Montreal and Musée d’Art Contemporain, Lyon. Abdessemed’s work has been presented at four Venice Biennales, Manifesta 3, two Istanbul Biennales and many more collective exhibitions worldwide. 

Abdessemed was given a major retrospective at the Centre Pompidou, Paris in 2012, and he is represented in a multitude of international collections. These include those of Centre Pompidou, Paris; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Musée d’Art moderne et contemporain, Geneva; Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris; Pinault Collection Palazzo Grassi–Punta Della Dogana, Venice; Moderna Museet, Stockholm and the Black Gold Museum, Riyadh.  

This work is presented with the support of The French Institute in Israel