March 18, 2018 - Ateneum Art Museum - Adel Abidin: History Wipes
March 18, 2018

Ateneum Art Museum

Adel Abidin, History Wipes (still), 2018. Video. Photo: Martin Jäger.

Adel Abidin
History Wipes
March 14–April 22, 2018

Ateneum Art Museum
Kaivokatu 2
FI-00100 Helsinki
Hours: Tuesday–Friday 10am–6pm,
Wednesday–Thursday 10am–8pm,
Saturday–Sunday 10am–5pm

T +358 29 4500401
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Adel Abidin’s major solo exhibition History Wipes challenges us to look at what is happening around us right now—and what has happened over the previous decades and centuries. The exhibition, including eleven new and recent video installations and sculptures, deals with uncomfortable issues that we prefer to shut out from our minds. The subjects include ethnic cleansing, war, refugees, and manipulation exercised by the machinery of power. The artist is interested in what is being wiped from sight: what we seek to blot out and what we keep quiet about.

Adel Abidin (born 1973, Baghdad, Iraq) is an internationally renowned contemporary artist who lives and works in both Helsinki, Finland and Amman, Jordan. His work is characterised by a strong social ethos. Through his art, he deals with difficult topics, often using light humour and sarcasm. However, in the end, Abidin’s works come across as profound, serious and even gloomy.

Adel Abidin's recent works are rooted in the traumas of history, which is the case with one of the key works in the exhibition, the video installation History Wipes (2018). Dark periods in the history of Mankind, like the Finnish Civil War in 1918, the Holocaust, or Arab Spring, have served as starting points for this work. During its creation process, however, the work evolved into a more general commentary on the instability and ambiguity of memories. Whose stories and history are we telling—or are we told—and with what voice? Manipulating facts and erasing undesirable and embarrassing political events, or persons from photographs, does not change history, but only buries them deeper in the archives.

The large-scale installation Archive (2018) is based on Abidin's experience of applying for a residence permit at a police station in Amman. Inside a huge archive shelf with its colourful cardboard folders were hidden the lives of thousands of ordinary people, including that of the artist. This eerie graveyard of information began to live and move in the artist's mind: it conveyed stories of real people, controlled and monitored by the authorities.

The exhibition is curated by the director of the Ateneum Art Museum, Dr. Susanna Pettersson, and the chief curator Sointu Fritze. The exhibition will coincide with the release of the book Adel Abidin. History Wipes, written by Susanna Pettersson. The book is published by Parvs Publishing Ltd.

The production of the video installation Cleansing (2018) has been supported by The Promotion Centre for Audiovisual Culture (AVEK) and Qatar Museums (QM).

Ateneum Art Museum
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History Wipes
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