Curated by Vasif Kortun8 MARCH – 30 JUNE 2022
Meem Gallery presents an arresting screen-based installation of six videos of the acclaimed Iraqi-Finnish artist Adel Abidin.
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 Artist
Adel Abidin was born in Baghdad (1973) and lives between Helsinki and Amman. He received a B.A. in painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Baghdad (2000) and an M.F.A from the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki (2005).
Selected exhibitions include Vanhaerents Art Collection, Brussels (2015), 56th Venice Biennale, Iranian Pavilion (2015), The Glasstress-Goti- ka, 56th Venice Biennale, International Exhibition, Palazzo Franchetti (2015), 5th Guangzhou Triennial, The Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, Gwangju Museum of Art, South Korea (2014), The Jerusalem Show VII, Jerusalem (2014), Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark (2014), Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan (2013-2012), 54th Venice Biennale, Iraq Pavilion (2011), 10th Sharjah Biennale, UAE (2011), Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto (2011), Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar (2010), 17th Biennale of Sydney, Sydney (2010), Espace Galley of Contemporary Art, Louis Vuitton, Paris (2008), The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, St. Louis, USA (2008), The 4th Gothenburg Biennale, Sweden (2007) and has represented Finland at the Nordic Pavilion in the 52nd Venice Biennale (2007).
Work in collections includes KIASMA- Museum of Contemporary Art, The National Gallery, Helsinki; The National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia; The Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE; Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar; EMMA- Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Finland; Nadour Private Collection; Kamel Lazaar Collection: The Barjeel Art Foundation, UAE; The Heino Art Foundation, Helsinki; Darat al Funun, The Khalid Shoman Foundation, Amman; HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, UAE; KOÇ Foundation, Istanbul, Turkey.
Adel Abidin on His Practice
I use various media such as videos, video installations, multi-media sculptures, sound-based installations, and photography to explore the issues we live through. I try to explore the complex relationship between visual art, politics & identity, and gravitate towards different social contexts dealing with elusive experiences and cultural alienation using irony and humor.
I use my cross-cultural background to create a distinct visual language often laced with sarcasm and paradox while maintaining an ultimately humanistic approach. The irony is nothing but a medium of provocation that extends the mental borders of the artwork beyond the limits of the exhibition space. I am always interested in creating opportunities to prolong the discussions beyond the artwork by enabling the audience to convey mental elements from work into their daily life.
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, İstanbul 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
Musical Manifest: The Trailer