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 til 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 currently divides his time between Paris and London.
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 the MoMA PS1 in New York, the MIT List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Magasin – Centre national d’art contemporain in Grenoble, the Parasol Unit in London, at the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin, the Musée national d’Art moderne – Centre Pompidou in Paris, and the CAC in Málaga or at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal. In 2018, he designed two major exhibitions simultaneously, Otchi Tchiornie at the Musée du Grand-Hornu in Belgium and L’Antidote at the MAC Lyon. Adel Abdessemed’s work has been presented at four Venice Biennales (2003, 2007, 2011, 2015), where he won the Benesse Prize (2007), at two Istanbul Biennales (2007, 2017), as well as at the Biennales of São Paulo (2006), Lyon (2007), Gwangju (2008) and Havana (2009). In 2010, the artist participated in the first triennial in Aichi (Japan), in 2017 in Milan and Oku-Noto in Suzu (Japan).