Basim Magdy: To Hypnotize Them With Forgetfulness

University Galleries of Illinois State University , Illinois, United States
26 Oct 2018 - 16 Dec 2018

Basim Magdy, The Dent, 2014. Super 16mm film transferred to full HD video, 19:02 minutes. Commissioned by Abraaj Group Art Prize. Courtesy of the artist.

Basim Magdy, The Dent, 2014. Super 16mm film transferred to full HD video, 19:02 minutes. Commissioned by Abraaj Group Art Prize. Courtesy of the artist.

To Hypnotize Them With Forgetfulness presents six films, a photographic installation, and a newly commissioned text-based work by Egyptian artist Basim Magdy. The exhibition focuses on the artist’s process-based experiments with altering analog film and writing absurd storylines.

Educated as a painter in Cairo, Magdy began to shift his focus more toward working with photographs and manipulating film in 2011. He explains that he could use film as “a tool to communicate ideas related to loss, destruction, confusion, and the apocalypse.” His endless transformations include “pickling” the film in household solutions; placing a kaleidoscope in front of the lens; and utilizing masks, light leaks, and double exposures. The resulting painterly distortions of image and color are vibrant, unexpected, and hypnotic. Magdy then composes improbable narratives—often about future aspirations, failure, and the repetition of history—which are added as both voiceovers and captions. Strangely haunting and darkly humorous, the works create, in the artist’s words, “a visually different version of reality” and a “narrative that has no beginning and no end.”

The exhibition’s title is quoted from The Dent (2014), a 19-minute Super 16mm film transferred to HD video that demonstrates the range of the artist’s poetic and ambiguous writing. Amidst imagery of dilapidated Modern infrastructure, Classical marble sculptures, a spectral marching band, and an all-seeing elephant, a story of collective failure unfolds in a fictional small town where the residents unrealistically dream of hosting the Olympics. Additional works include The Everyday Ritual of Solitude Hatching Monkeys, a 2014 film that was inspired by Magdy’s father’s short stories, and a related 2017 photographic work, We’re All Victims of Our Own Adopted Fantasies Here (reprise). Among the other selected films are: No Shooting Stars (2016); The Many Colors of the Sky Radiate Forgetfulness (2014); Crystal Ball (2013); and Thirteen Essential Rules for Understanding the World (2011).

Magdy will take over University Galleries’ Instagram account for a week during the course of the exhibition. He also invites visitors to take their own photographs and videos within the exhibition to “create their own narratives or parodies, tell love stories, express how the work makes them feel, or simply to add filters, stickers, or digital doodles.” Please share your creations with us on Instagram using #DearBasim and mentioning @universitygalleriesisu and @Basim.Magdy.

Magdy’s work has been exhibited at New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Beirut Art Center, Beirut; MAXXI National Museum of the 21st Century Arts, Rome; D-CAF Festival, Cairo; Arnolfini, Bristol, England; Jeu de Paume, Paris; and Castello di Rivoli, Torino, Italy; and has been included in the Sharjah Biennial, Istanbul Biennial, Lubumbashi Biennial, and Seoul Biennial. His work is included in the collections of Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Louis Vuitton Foundation, Paris; Deutsche Bank Collection, Germany; National Gallery of Canada, Ottowa; Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates; Castello di Rivoli, Torino; and Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar; among others. Magdy was the 2016 Deutsche Bank “Artist of the Year” and has been awarded the Abraaj Art Prize, Dubai, and the NEW:VISION award at the CPH:DOX Film Festival, Copenhagen. In 2012, he was shortlisted for the Future Generation Art Prize at the Pinchuk Art Center, Kiev. Magdy lives and works in Basel, Switzerland. He is represented by artSümer, Istanbul; Gypsum Gallery, Cairo; and hunt kastner, Prague.

An 80-page exhibition catalogue featuring texts by film scholar Bruce Jenkins and exhibition curator Kendra Paitz will be published in 2019.

Basim Magdy: To Hypnotize Them With Forgetfulness is organized by University Galleries’ Director and Chief Curator Kendra Paitz and is sponsored in part by grants from the Illinois Arts Council Agency and the Alice and Fannie Fell Trust.




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