Loading...

Cabaret Crusades: The Path to Cairo, 2012

Cabaret Crusades is an epic trilogy that tells the story of the medieval crusades from the Arab perspective. Wael Shawky has created three animated videos, the triptych formed by Cabaret Crusades: The Horror Show Files (2010), Cabaret Crusades: The Path to Cairo (2012) and The Secrets of Karbala (2014). Based on the book of essays The Crusades through Arab Eyes, written in French in 1983 by the Lebanese historian Amin Maalouf, Shawky rewrites the bellicose expeditions of the eleventh to thirteenth centuries, which the Western papacy sent to the Middle East to re-conquer the Holy Land. Made with puppets rather than actors, this trilogy has made Shawky one of the most significant contemporary Egyptian artists.

Cabaret Crusades: The Path to Cairo (2012) has been part of the MACBA Collection since 2014. This is a horror film that follows the events after a Western order sent half-a-million Franks to a military campaign to ‘re-conquer’ Jerusalem from the Muslim army. Classical Arabic – the language of newsletters and texts from the Koran – endows the filmic narrative with the voice of authority. It was shot with 120 clay figurines handmade by the artist. Whereas for the first film of the trilogy Shawky used two-hundred-year-old wooden figures borrowed from Daniele Lupi and the Lupi Family Collection of Turin, in this film the artist made his own clay puppets following the craftsmanship techniques of the provincial region of the Aubagne, which he knew firsthand from an artist residency. The clay, which brings toughness, along with Shawky’s designs, result in terrifying and grotesque figures. Some have an animalistic appearance with misshapen noses and camel’s teeth. Through these figures, Shawky creates a mythical and surreal atmosphere that blends drama and cynicism. It does not create the illusion of realism or hide the strings that manipulate the characters. On the contrary, they become a metaphor to highlight the inevitable power networks in the construction of history. Regarding the music, the film incorporates choirs of children and adults who interpret themes from the Bahraini musical tradition, characteristic of the Persian Gulf.

The failure of dialogue, the manipulation of historical narrative and the persistence of culturally inherited stereotypes are the targets against which Shawky’s grotesque characters rally.


Technical details

Original title:
Cabaret Crusades: The Path to Cairo
Registration number:
5092
Artist:
Shawky, Wael
Date created:
2012
Date acquired:
2013
Fonds:
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
Object type:
Media
Media:
Single-channel video, colour, sound, 58 min
Edition number:
Ed. 6/7+ 2 P.A.
Credits:
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation. Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw
Copyright:
© Wael Shawky
It has accessibility resources:
No

The MACBA Collection features Catalan, Spanish and international art and, although it includes works from the 1920s onwards, its primary focus is on the period between the 1960s and the present.

For more information on the work or the artist, please consult MACBA's Library. To request a loan of the work, please write to colleccio [at] macba.cat.

If you need a high resolution image of the work, you must submit an image loan request.

I don’t think about art when I’m working. I try to think about life
Jean-Michel Basquiat