Adel Abdessemed was born in 1971 in Constantine, eastern Algeria, to a Chaoui Berber family. He attended the École régionale des beaux-arts in Batna, the École supérieure des beaux-arts in Algiers and the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts in Lyon. After his studies, Abdessemed lived and worked in the Cité internationale des arts in Paris. From 2000 till 2001, he was a resident artist at MoMA PS1 in New York. After spending some time in Berlin, he returned to Paris in 2004. He lives and works in Paris, France.
By growing up in Algeria amid civil war tensions, Abdessemed has been greatly affected by the media exposure of the Gulf War and its global impact. He creates situations based on deliberate actions carried out with everyday materials, which he documents with videos, photographs, and later juxtaposes with a sculptural remainder from the action itself. From drawing to video, from sculpture to installation, Adel explores the wounds of our present. Although violence and human cruelty play a role in most of his works, Abdessemed has stated about his work: «I think my work is actually positive. The world is violent – not me».
Abdessemed has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions over the past thirty years, at Wilde (Geneva, Switzerland), MoMA PS1 (New York, USA), MIT List Visual Arts Center Cambridge (Massachusetts, USA), the Magasin – Centre national d’art contemporain (Grenoble, France), Parasol Unit (London, UK), Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaud engo (Turin, Italy), Musée national d’Art moderne – Centre Pompidou (Paris, France), CAC (Málaga, Spain) and Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal (Canada). Recently, he has been part of group exhibitions at the Fondation Louis Vuitton (Paris, France) and at Wilde (Basel and Geneva, Switzerland). In 2018, he designed two major exhibitions simultaneously, Otchi Tchiornie at the Musée du Grand-Hornu (Belgium) and L’Antidote at the MAC (Lyon, France). Adel Abdessemed’s work has been presented numerous years at the Venice Biennale, where he won the Benesse Prize in 2007. He has also participated in the Biennales of Istanbul, São Paulo, Lyon, Gwangju and Havana. As well as in the first Triennale in Aichi (Japan), in Milan (Italy) and in Oku-Noto (Suzu, Japan).