Basim Magdy, Winning Artist, Abraaj Group Art Prize 2014
The Dent, Super 16mm film transferred to full HD, colour, sound, 19 min
Starting with shiny rooftops and ending with the seemingly insignificant demise of the last circus elephant of its kind, ‘The Dent’ weaves together loosely linked events and irrational occurrences to reflect upon collective failure and hopefulness. An anonymous little town dreams of international recognition, even as it becomes obvious that its efforts are misguided. The spectre of defeat may only be countered by maintaining a shared delusion, which keeps growing even as its residents continue to labour and make sacrifices.
Basim Magdy’s moving image work layers film footage and text to produce a surrealistic visual essay, balancing the bleakness of contemporary conditions with sensitive humour. Shot between Paris, New York, Brussels, Quebec, Basel, Madeira, Prague and Venice, among other locations, the scenes are lent an aura similar to that of early cinema by the familiar grain and saturated tones of 16mm film, a medium that the artist favours. Magdy’s film draws from life, capturing absurd details and everyday beauty, seeking the uncanny within man-made environments.
Ambient sound and music combine with text authored by the artist, deliberately composed to create a hypnotic sensory experience, making implausible events seem briefly possible.
Born in 1977 in Cairo, Egypt, Magdy currently lives and works between Basel and Cairo. His works span various mediums including painting, installation, and video. Recent works attempt to confound linear narratives, evoking confusion, absurdity, fragmentation, as well as a persistent sense of poetic failure. Selected recent exhibitions include Sharjah Biennial 11, Sharjah; ‘The Future Generation Art Prize@Venice 2013’ – An official Collateral Event of the 55th Venice Biennale (2013); ‘La Triennale’, Palais de Tokyo, Paris; ‘Transmediale, Haus der Kulturen der Welt’, Berlin (2012); 1st Time Machine Biennale of Contemporary Art. ‘D-O ARK Underground’, Konjic; ‘An Exchange with Sol LeWitt’, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art – MASS MoCA, North Adams; and Weltraum. ‘Die Kunst und ein Traum – Kunsthalle Wien’, Vienna (2011).
In 2013 his work appeared in the 13th Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul; and ‘Dissident Futures’, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, among others.