Selma Selman


Venue: acb Plus
Date: Nov 10 – Dec 08, 2023
Opening: Nov 09, 2023, 18:00–21:00

Selma Selman (b. 1991) is one of the youngest and most exciting flag-bearers of a long tradition of critical and political art from the ex-Yugoslav area, who works with performance, video, photography, drawing and painting. In her search for functional, contemporary political resistance, her practice both embraces and blasts the stereotypes surrounding Roma people by referring to her personal experience with oppression from various directions and scales but also focuses on her own specific condition as a young woman artist of Roma origins from Bosnia. Considering the complexities of the oppressions Roma people experience, the ultimate aim of her activism and artistic practice is to protect and enable female bodies, but also enact a cross-scalar approach to collective self-emancipation of oppressed women. Within the frame of what she calls Superpositional intersectionalism, the artist also synthesises overlapping and intersecting forms of discrimination that people, minority groups face around the globe. 

For her third exhibition at acb, the artist presents her latest large-scale project entitled Motherboards, that premiered at Rijksakademie Open Studios in June 2023, and at the 4th Autostrada Biennale in Kosovo last summer. Motherboards are elements providing connectivity between the hardware components of a computer – processor, memory, hard drive, video card – and therefore act as „mothers” of all components attached to it. This metaphorical approach unfolds in the portraits of four Roma women painted on car hoods, referencing the first festive wedding held after the Bosnian war in the artist’s family. These women belong to men as wives, mothers, and remain invisible in society, as motherboards inside computers. Still, they stand as heroines who embody strength, persistence and survival. The boards also serve as raw material; after two years of research, Selman found a non-toxic way to extract gold from motherboards, thanks to a thousand-year-old process. With the gold obtained from 200 motherboards, Selman  coated one nail, as a symbol of Roma women’s essential role in their family, yet invisible social status. The artist intends to transmit this knowledge of extracting gold from scrap metal to her community in order to lift them out of poverty, but also turn their stigmatised labour into a valuable one. 

Selma Selman’s artistic practice has been revolving around questions of labour and economy, especially through the recycling and use of scrap metal as a reference to the way her family has been supported itself for generations. In most of her performances, she destroys metal goods, whole cars or household items with an axe, in order to harvest their valuable content. Systematically, the artist recycles these dismantled metal parts by painting on them, therefore questioning the ways that society assigns value to material objects, labour and how we relate to them both. Selman’s paintings on scrap metal form a personal visual diary composed of – often symbolic – self-portraits, portraits of her family, impressions of everyday life in Bosnia, harsh and ironic reflections of her position in the whirlpool of global capitalism, sensitive and eerie text-based confessions, disquieting depictions of female body parts, as well as art historical references that have been determining for her. By using scrap metal parts for her works, not only does the artist refer to her family’s struggling existence, but also symbolically transforms this seemingly useless surface into a conveyer of her message that transcends misery, discrimination and stereotypes.

Show more