Madison Museum of Contemporary Art Presents DARK MATTER, an Exhibition Featuring Celebrated Works by British Artist Faisal Abdu’Allah

DARK MATTER, on view through April 2, 2023, includes a selection of the artist's most celebrated series

The Duppy Conqueror (triptych), 2017

Jacquard tapestries, 117 x 60 inches, each. Courtesy of the Artist and Magnolia Editions.

MADISON, Wis. - October 13, 2022 - (

DARK MATTER an exhibition by British artist Faisal Abdu'Allah, is now on view at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA). The exhibition explores personal identity, cultural representation, and self-determination.

DARK MATTER, open through April 2, 2023, includes a selection of the artist's most celebrated series, as well as a reconstruction of Garden of Eden (2003/2022), an architectural installation the artist created in collaboration with renowned architect Sir David Adjaye. It is the first time that Garden of Eden will be exhibited in the United States. This interactive work separates visitors based on genetic traits—in this case, eye color. With Garden of Eden, Abdu'Allah points to the privileges conferred to certain people based on the nuances of their genetic matter. 

In other works, Abdu'Allah uses human hair—a carrier of DNA—and focuses on the ritual of cutting hair. Abdu'Allah is also a trained barber, a profession he has fully integrated into his artistic practice, most notably through his Live Salon performances (2006-present). During each Live Salon session, he provides free haircuts to willing participants and engages them in open-ended conversations about issues surrounding contemporary social identity and representation. 

In Hairtraits (2016-present), Abdu'Allah uses participants' actual hair, which he blends into a fine powder to render their portrait on paper. The artist explains, "Essentially, it brings their DNA, their identity, into the work. Our hair carries a trace of who we are, and it is extremely political. In the history of post-colonialism, the straighter your hair was, the higher up on the chain of respect you were." 

As a prelude to DARK MATTER, a stone counter-monument titled Blu³eprint was installed outside the Museum in February 2022. Abdu'Allah first conceived of the sculpture several years ago in response to debates about the role of monuments and their removal from public view. 

DARK MATTER was organized by former MMoCA Curator of Exhibitions Leah Kolb. Presenting Sponsorship for DARK MATTER has been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.


Faisal Abdu'Allah is a British-born, Wisconsin-based artist and barber. He studied in London at the Royal College of Art. He is Professor of Printmaking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2019 Mayor of London Award, 2016 Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant Program for Painters and Sculptors, 2012 Mayors prize for sustainability for his film Double Pendulum, Decibel Visual Artist Award, London, and First Prize at the Tallinn Print Triennial, Estonia.

Abdu'Allah is an Honorary Professor at the University of Bedfordshire (UK). In 2021, he was named the Chazen Family Distinguished Chair in Art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art offers free daily admission. The Museum includes four galleries and The Shop, a space to provide interactive contemporary art experiences and educational workshops to the community.

MMoCA's galleries are open Thursday-Sunday from 12-6 p.m. Please visit to learn more. 

Contact Information:
Marni McEntee
MMoCA Director of Communications
[email protected]

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Original Source: Madison Museum of Contemporary Art Presents DARK MATTER, an Exhibition Featuring Celebrated Works by British Artist Faisal Abdu'Allah