8 March - 30 June 2022

Meem Gallery presents an arresting screen-based installation of six videos of the acclaimed Iraqi-Finnish artist Adel Abidin, curated by Vasif Kortun.


Musical Manifest

Adel Abidin’s practice explores the relationship between the visual arts, identity, politics, and popular culture. In Musical Manifest, the artist turns the camera on himself in a series of music clips using an absurd and ironic visual language. Abidin is the protagonist, singing songs rearranged from fragments of lyrics of different pop music. The songs sound strange, almost distinguishable but slightly off as if lost in translation. The videos make fictional references to his past since emigrating to North-West Europe. Staged in theatrical spaces, Abidin triggers everyday emotions as the videos oscillate between the dreadful, funny, and weird and the artist confronting himself, traversing different contexts.


Adel Abidin on Musical Manifest

'When I immigrated to Finland, I started facing a deep shock regarding the differences between the two cultures. Finding myself on the border between the two helped my practice but distracting for my selfdom, affecting my decisions and creating a fertile ground for confusion and turmoil.


When the world slowed down during the pandemic, I decided to turn my lens and start investigating my identity and perspective. I exposed myself to all the possible ways to understand what had indeed gone wrong in the process of figuring out a third self that came to be me. Music was the best path to pursue this exploration, and I made six music videos where I sang and acted as the protagonist. Intermixed from many different songs, where many viewers will recall, the lyrics resonate with the contemplation of my meanings in my life.


I work with the themes of identity, power, fear, clichés, slippages, and uncertainties in language by manipulating well-known pop song lyrics once used to express love, hope, and dreams. The rearrangement of these lyrics illustrates a harsh yet honest tool that represents what we hide or are afraid of making known'.


About the Curator

Vasif Kortun is a curator, writer and teacher in the field of visual art, its institutions, spatial practices. Kortun was the founding director of Research & Programs of SALT, an interdisciplinary cultural institution based in Turkey. A recipient of the Award for Curatorial Excellence from Bard College, Kortun was the founding director of the Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center, Istanbul, Proje4L, ─░stanbul Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College.


Kortun has co-curated the Taipei Biennale (2008) with ManRay Hsu, 9th International Istanbul Biennial (2005) with Charles Esche and was one of the co-curators of the 24. São Paulo Biennial (1998). He was the director and chief curator of the 3rd International Istanbul Biennial (1992). Kortun also curated the UAE Pavilion for the Venice Biennale (2011), the Turkish Pavilion for the São Paulo Biennale (1994 and 1998) and the Venice Biennale in (2007).


Kortun has served on many juries such as the Turner Prize, Velasquez Prize, Belvedere award, and on the juries of biennials such as Venice and Gwangju. He serves as a board member at the Foundation for Art Initiatives, SALT, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp. He has written extensively on contemporary art and the cultural situation for publications and periodicals locally and internationally.

Collaborators on Musical Manifest
Idea & Director: Adel Abidin
Curator: Vasif Kortun
Executive Producer: Katariina Holma of Woodpecker Production
Music Composing: Sami Rahola & Martin Jäger
Lyrics Compilation: Sami Rahola
Vocals & performing: Adel Abidin
Editing: Martin Jäger, Santeri Enstedt & Adel Abidin
Post-production: Martin Jäger & Ross Uljee
3D animation and modeling: Robbie Mueller
Many Thanks to: Sam Shingler
The work is generously funded by The Saastamoisen Foundation, Finland