The Algerian-born artist Adel Abdessemed’s latest work—a sculpted carrier pigeon bearing a Blackberry and set of explosives —is unveiled this week on the top floor of the multi-storey car park in central Peckham, south London.
The permanent piece, commissioned by the non-profit organisation Bold Tendencies, is entitled Bristow after the long-running cartoon in the London newspaper the Evening Standard, which depicted the everyday activities of a humdrum, maverick buying clerk who works in the Chester-Perry building.
“For me the artistic act is like the old mole that sticks its nose out where nobody is expecting,” Abdessemed says. Hannah Barry, the co-founder of Bold Tendencies, calls the unassuming work an “anti-monument”.
Abdessemed’s piece made of stacked machetes, Nymphéas (2015), was shown at last year’s Venice Biennale in the Arsenale exhibition, All the World’s Futures. The catalogue entry described the artist's vision as uncompromising, adding that "Abdessemed's work always appears to be in a state of high alert." The artist once told The Art Newspaper that "politics can be as vicious as a chimpanzee”.
A new book about Abdessemed’s practice is due to be published in September by Bold Tendencies with contributions from Kieran Long, the senior curator of contemporary architecture, design and digital at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and professor Sarah Wilson of the Courtauld Institute of Art.
Bold Tendencies, a non-profit organisation supported by Southwark Council, has used the top floor of the building to host summertime exhibitions since 2007. The venture, which includes a rooftop bar called Frank’s, has attracted almost one million people to the area. Its lease on the car park runs for another three years. Last November, a company called Pop Community won the competition to develop the site into an events space with 50 studios and workplaces.
Other works on view in the car park space this summer include Agora by Richard Wentworth, a meandering design in aluminium paint which was unveiled last year, and Flourished, a new poem by the UK poets Sophie Collins and Sam Riviere which is displayed on mirrored panels. The artist Simon Whybray has also painted pink the staircase of the car park; the new installation is called hi boo I love you.