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Saâdane Afif's work vibrates with multiple meanings. His sculptures and installations reveal a fascination with music and music culture. They often adopt the forms of microphones, amplifiers, speakers of musical instruments and their decorative finishes. Many of his works include music as an active ingredient. A recurring element in Afif's work is the passing of time. Sometimes this theme is represented through a vanitas trope (particularly the image of a skull), or through the use of clocks, which has developed to be part of his formal vocabulary.
Over the past four years, Afif has adopted an unusual approach to his subject matter. Abandoning the position of the isolated artist, taking sole responsibility for the outcome of his work, Afif practices a form of artistic delegation that creates an extensive network of commissions to artists, writers, designers and musicians. Starting in 2004, he began to invite writers to create lyrics based upon his artworks. These were presented as text on the gallery walls alongside Afif's original works, in place of the usual didactic institutional labels. He then gave these lyrics to musicians and commissioned them to write music based upon the lyrics. The resulting songs were then presented in the gallery space and subsequently released on CD.
Afif's generous and dialogical approach to the creation and meditation of art explores notions of appropriation, institutional critique, the elimination of the author, and the relationship between the original and the reproduction. As critic Anne Dressen puts it, "Close to post-conceptual postures, Afif goes beyond Kosuth's One and Three chairs, proposing instead of a chair, its representation and its description an artwork, a poetic text and a song" (Flash Art, Dec 2005).
Presse release of the exhibition « Technical Specifications » at Witte de With, 2008
Selected exhibitions include 8 Biennale Berlin and at the Leopold-Hoesch-Museum & Papiermuseum in Düren (for the Günther-Peill-Prize) in 2014, IAC Villeurbanne (France) and 11th Sharjah Biennial in 2013, Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt in 2012, Centre Georges Pompidou in 2010, Witte de With in 2008, Documenta 12, Tate Modern in 2007, Fondation Prince Pierre Monaco in 2006,Palais de Tokyo , Moscow Biennal and Lyon Biennal in 2005.
In 2015, his work will be presented at the next Venice Biennale (56th International Art Exhibition).