Adel Abidin:  A Vision of The Future, 2017

Living sculpture - multimedia installation

Archive discusses our hopes and fears, and our relation to the authorities. It’s a work that shows how information can be used either for our benefit or against us. This is a theme that has inspired numerous novels and films.

The work emphasises on the individuals, ordinary people. For him, the archive is a graveyard that comes alive only when someone needs information or perhaps thinks of such a need. To emphasise that he wanted the folders to move, to shake a little, as if they’d like to remind us that the folders are full of life and individual life circumstances.

Abidin’s Archive is a full-size three-dimensional object that draws our attention to the files of our lives. It’s a strong reminder of the authority driven archives: health care system, education, tax authorities as well as work history and pension systems that all build up our personal archive let alone the possible crime record. Apart from that it’s also a symbol of all the information that we generate every single day by leaving little digital traces everywhere. The use of social media, everyday transactions such as paying groceries or travelling by taxi, searching material in the Internet or texting and making calls can be reconstructed by the means of digital archaeology. Thus Abidin approaches yet again themes related to power and control, and even manipulation.

The work was inspired when Abidin visited a police station in Amman in September 2014, to apply for his residence permit in Jordan. He entered this large office room with a large shelves filled with colorful folders. “These exhausted folders represented ordinary people, I almost saw them moving as they contain life in them.” Abidin said.


Dimension: 320 x 400 cm

Moving mechanism fixed on the back of the installation, alongside the flickering light