ARCOmadrid 2023

Venue: IFEMA Madrid, Avenida del Partenón, 5 28042 Madrid
Date: Feb 22 – 26, 2023

acb Gallery | Booth 7A06

acb Gallery is proud to present a selection of Selma Selman’s paintings on scrap metal, drawings, and one performance video, realized between 2018 and 2023. Artist and activist Selma Selman (1991, Bihać, Bosnia and Herzegovina) is one of the youngest and most exciting flag-bearers of a long tradition of critical and political artistic production from the ex-Yugoslav area, who works with performance, video, installation, photography, drawing and painting.

Selman’s practice both embraces and blasts the stereotypes about Roma people by referring to her personal experience, life situations and stories, but also focusses on her own specific condition as a young woman artist of Roma origins from Bosnia. Her paintings on scrap metal are a personal visual diary composed of self-portraits, portraits of her family, depictions, notes and impressions of everyday life scenes in Bosnia, situations she was confronted to, as well as reference to characters or works from art history that have been determining for her. These works painted on car, fridge, stove, washing machine or different household items parts directly reference her family’s existential struggle, as her father and brothers have been collecting metal and harvesting valuable parts to be able to provide for their family by selling them. Using and recycling this material as a canvas for her paintings that often combine text and image, the artist symbolically transforms seemingly basic, trivial and useless surfaces into conveyers of her messages, into loudspeakers voicing her fight against misery, gender, social and ethnic inequality, discrimination and stereotypes.

Her series of – often symbolic – drawings, unfolding in self-portraits and visual collections of her nightmares, form an even more intimate body of works as they reflect the struggle, sufferance and discomfort she experiences with her own female body and the numerous gender-based expectations, roles and attributes that society and especially her own family are attaching to it. Selma Selman’s transcendental work is indeed full of tensions, rips and tears as she continuously tries to mend the wounds, narrow the tremendous gap between her origins – and all burdens that they mean for her – and her autonomous existence as a contemporary artist.

In her video pieces, the young artist has been using her own body, voice and identity as a medium for political resistance, feminist empowerment and collective self-emancipation, but also questioning the relationship between art, labour and economy, all this with a sensitive, harsh and ironic approach. Both her painterly and performative artistic practices encourage a re-evaluation of what is assumed to be unchangeable, impossible or unnegotiable. Her search for functional, contemporary political resistance has also led her to found Get the Heck to School in 2017, a socially engaged organisation aiming to empower Roma girls worldwide who face poverty and social ostracisation.

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