Arnolfini presents The Stars Were Aligned For a Century of New Beginnings, the first UK solo exhibition by Egyptian artist Basim Magdy.
Situated somewhere between fact and fiction, Basim Magdy’s work is rooted in dreams, scientific theory and failed utopian ambitions. Full of humour and quiet melancholy, his works on paper and in film, photography and slide projection reflect on the present social and political climate and our collective failure as, in the desire for progress, we repeat the same mistakes over and over again in a recurring cycle of aspiration, action and defeat.
The Stars Were Aligned For a Century of New Beginnings is Basim Magdy’s first solo exhibition at a public institution in the UK. With a focus on the artist’s film work, the exhibition layers past, present and future, revealing social blueprints and ideologies that unfold across time. A trilogy of films produced in 2014, Hatching Monkeys, The Many Colors of the Sky Radiate Forgetfulness and The Dent, present surreal alternative realities. Magdy often uses experimental techniques for developing super 8 or 16mm film using household chemicals in a process he calls “film pickling”, and the nostalgically blurred images and psychedelic colours created through this process combined with ambient soundtracks seem otherworldly, at once futuristic and outdated. Dreamlike scenes drift together, held by evocative, fragmentary narratives that, like many of Magdy’s works, exist somehow out of time and out of place.
“In recent years I have developed an interest in creating a language where image, text and sound don't respond to or illustrate one another too literally, where they float together in one container, sometimes meeting and other times drifting apart. In most cases there is a conclusion that doesn't offer an obvious resolution. This leaves gaps for the imagination, offering a different understanding of these elements while maintaining the work as one coherent entity.” Basim Magdy
A series of neon bright works on paper with spray paint, collaged elements, gouache, acrylics, and watercolors depict scenes that, for all their cartoon absurdity, darkly foretell a post apocalyptic vision of the future where machines are dominant over man. In An Apology of a Love Story that Crashed into a Whale (2016), a 64-part grid of text-layered photographic works, a series of seemingly unrelated images of architectural structures, objects and landscapes accumulate in a future archive of the present, questioning the way in which we pass on memories in order to shape our own future.
The exhibition is part of the Deutsche Bank’s “Artist of the Year”-program and had its premiere at Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, Berlin, in 2016.
Basim Magdy (b. 1977) is an artist based in Basel, Switzerland and Cairo, Egypt. His recent exhibitions include Surround Audience: 2015 New Museum Triennial, New Museum, New York; Lest the Two Seas Meet, Museum of Modern Art Warsaw; The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, HOME Manchester, UK and Lismore Castle Arts, Ireland; La Biennale de Montreal, Canada; MUMA – Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne and a solo presentation at Art in General, New York. His work has been featured in numerous solo and group shows including the SeMA Biennial MediaCity, Seoul, Korea, 2014; the 13th Istanbul Biennial, Turkey, 2013; Biennale Jogja XII, Indonesia, 2013; the Sharjah Biennial 11, UAE, 2013; La Triennale, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2012 and Transmediale, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, 2012. He was shortlisted for the second edition of the Future Generation Art Prize, Pinchuk Art Centre in 2012 and is the winner of Abraaj Art Prize, Dubai and the New:Vision Award, CPH:DOX Film Festival, Copenhagen in 2014. Magdy is the recipient of the 2016 Deutsche Bank Artist of the Year award.