Adel Abidin


Site-Specific Installation, 2014


Al Ma'mal (The Tile Factory) & streets of the old city of Jerusalem


'Yesterday' is a word that I frequently hear from people in my region. 'Yesterday' always wins when they compare it to the current time.


Growing up in the Middle East and listening to conversations, reading books, or even poetry, I noticed that we always look to the past. The lack of vision to look forward, and the tendency to always compare the present with events from earlier periods keeps us attached to the past. In the Middle East during troubled times, people always tend to balance themselves with nostalgia or religion. The loss of hope and trust in politics leads to a personal loss of confidence in actions and choices: it's always easiest to lean on 'yesterday'.


My installation for the Jerusalem Show starts with a solid bronze object located in the building of Al Ma'mal. Then, it spreads all around the old city of Jerusalem, asserting itself with a subtle presence.



Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away

Now it looks as though they're here to stay

Oh, I believe in


Suddenly I'm not half the man I used to be

There's a shadow hanging over me

Oh, came suddenly.



Love was such an easy game to play

Now I need a place to hide away

I long for yesterday.



The song 'Yesterday' by The Beatles is not only a simple love song for Adel Abidin; it signifies the common regional obsession with living for and praising 'yesterday'. For Abidin, everybody from the region has been longing for the past, therefore the story of this site-specific installation starts from these three specific verses from a song about yesterday.


The installation starts in the building of the Al-Ma'mal Foundation for Contemporary Art, a traditional handmade floor tiles factory founded in the old city of Jerusalem in 1900 and which operated up to 1975. From this building – which Abidin views as the heart of the project – the project spreads out around the old city of Jerusalem through panels which make and break links to the room which his work inhabits.


© Al Ma'mal 2017           privacy policy

  • Facebook Basic Black
  • Black Twitter Icon
  • Black Tumblr Icon