Wael Shawky
Exhibition

Wael Shawky

Cabaret Crusades: The Path to Cairo
Wael Shawky "Cabaret Crusades: The Path to Cairo", 2012 Vídeo monocanal, color, so, 58 min Col·lecció MACBA. Fundació MACBA. Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw © Wael Shawky, 2015

Once again, the MACBA collaborates with the Loop Festival showing the work of Wael Shawky, Cabaret Crusades: The Path to Cairo, 2012, in the Tower room on 4, 5 and 6 June.
The work will be seen showed as part of the MACBA Collection exhibition: Desires and Necessities that opens on 18 June. Check out the hours.

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.

A project by LOOP Barcelona in collaboration with MACBA.

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dates
4 June 2015 – 6 June 2015
title
Wael Shawky
dates
4 June 2015 – 6 June 2015
title
Wael Shawky
artist
Wael Shawky
Alexandria
1971
Wael Shawky (Alexandria, Egypt, 1971) studied Fine Arts at the Universities of Alexandria and Pennsylvania (United States). Creator and founder/director of MASS Alexandria, the first independent study programme for young artists in this city, today he is one of the most prominent contemporary African artists. Shawky, who lives and works in Alexandria, focuses his work on the notions of identity, religion and the collective. Through films, installations and performances that blur the boundaries between reality and fiction, Shawky explores history, culture and the effect of globalisation in contemporary societies. Whether working with child actors or puppets, organising a heavy metal concert in a remote Egyptian village or simulating televised shows, Shawky approaches contemporary culture through the lens of historical tradition and vice versa. With a simple yet powerful language, his reviews of poetic myths and epic tales of medieval battles between Christians and Muslims fruitfully invert the usual discourse of historiography. His famous trilogy with puppets on the spiritual and doctrinal conflict between Muslim and Christian worship brings new meaning to the narrative of the present. Shawky has had solo exhibitions at the Serpentine Gallery, London (2013), Kunst-Werke Contemporary Art Institute, Berlin (2012), Nottingham Contemporary (2011) and Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (2011), among others, and has presented his work at Documenta XIII, Kassel (2012) and in the Biennales of SITE Santa Fe in the American state of New Mexico (2008), Istanbul (2005) and Venice (2003). His work is included in collections such as Tate Modern, London, Macro Museum, Rome, Darat Al Funun, Amman, Luxembourg Museum of Modern Art, APT Dubai and MACBA, Barcelona.
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