Reverse / Obverse (1972-2015). A retrospective tracing a sinuous path through his more than 40 years of sculptural practice. It is a compilation of his researches between object and process, his iron pieces and his tools, his experiments with the notions of scale and accumulation. For the Loop Festival the work of Wael Shawky, Cabaret Crusades.
As an artist, Sergi Aguilar (Barcelona 1946) questions some of the principal paradigms that have shaped the language of sculpture in the context of Spain from the early seventies to the present. At the same time, seen from today’s perspective, his work minimises the role played by formalist interpretations. This uncomfortable stance with the historiographic narrative and its reading codes, with general genealogies and certain specific analysis, not only affects this sculptor from Barcelona but a whole generation of artists whose work has evolved beyond the attributions that were once ascribed to them.
Reverse / Obverse (1972–2015) is a retrospective exhibition tracing a sinuous path through Aguilar’s more than forty years of sculptural practice. It is a compilation of his researches between object and process, his iron pieces and his tools, his experiments with the notions of scale and accumulation, his homages to Blinky Palermo and Giovanni Anselmo, as well as the drawings, photographs and audiovisual sequences made throughout his career.
The show is structured in four parts that establish a dialogue between the works and the thematic cycles of different periods. The idea of continuity – as opposed to the more traditional concepts of beginning, evolution and corollary – presides over this museographic proposal in which the artist tries to ‘undress’ the architecture of the MACBA building with a recreation of the logic and atmosphere of his own working space.
Production: Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona
Cabaret Crusades: The Path to Cairo
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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