Musical Manifest
17 November 2023 – 7 January 2024

Musical Manifest (2022) is a series of absurd and ironic music videos in which artist Adel Abidin turns the camera on himself. By performing songs rearranged from fragments of well-known pop lyrics, he makes observations and references to his own identity and past as an emigrant. The songs, originally about love, hope and dreams, sound almost recognisable but also strange. The manipulation of the lyrics proves to be an apt, cuttingly sharp tool to describe what we often hide or are afraid to reveal.

“When I immigrated to Finland from Iraq, I started facing a deep shock regarding the differences between the two cultures. Finding myself on the border between the two helped my practice but distracting for my selfdom, affecting my decisions, and creating a fertile ground for confusion and turmoil. When the world slowed down during the pandemic, I decided to turn my lens and start investigating my identity and perspective. I exposed myself to all the possible ways to understand what had indeed gone wrong in the process of figuring out a third self that came to be me. Music was the best path to pursue this exploration, and I made six music videos where I sang and acted as the protagonist. Intermixed from many different songs, where many viewers will recall, the lyrics resonate with the contemplation of my meanings in my life.”

This dual identity has often served as a starting point for Abidin’s art, which is both personal and political. In Musical Manifest he explores identity, power, fear, clichés, slippages, and uncertainties in language. As the artist encounters himself in different contexts and staged scenes in the videos, one cannot help but think of life as a stage or theatre in which we all play different roles. Despite our various perspectives, we wrestle with common themes of inadequacy and omnipotence, commitment and desire for freedom, good and evil, emptiness and perfection.

Adel Abidin (b. 1973 in Baghdad) is an internationally working visual artist based in Helsinki since 2001. He uses video, photography, installation, multimedia and sound as his mediums to address cultural encounters and prejudices, often with humour and satire. At the heart of his practice is an attempt to explore the complex relationship between art, politics and identity.

The production of the original 6-channel video installation was supported by the Saastamoinen Foundation. A single-channel version of the work will be shown at Turku Art Museum. The exhibition is supported by the Finnish Heritage Agency.