Arnolfini are delighted to bring The Stars Were Aligned For a Century of New Beginnings to Bristol, a major solo exhibition by Egyptian artist Basim Magdy. This extensive presentation, which is part of Deutsche Bank’s “Artist of the Year” programme, includes works on paper and in film, photography and slide projection that question the boundaries between reality, imagination and memory.
Basim Magdy’s work is full of humour and quiet melancholy. His films are rooted in dreams and scientific theory, reflecting on collective aspirations for future utopias and their failure, as we repeat the same mistakes over and over again in the pursuit of progress. In The Dent and The Everyday Ritual of Solitude Hatching Monkeys (both 2014) dreamlike scenes drift together, held by evocative, incomplete narratives. Magdy often uses experimental techniques for developing film using household substances in a process he calls “film pickling”, and the psychedelic colours created through this process combined with ambient soundtracks give a diffused sense of place and timelessness. He uses the same technique in a double slide projector work, A 240 Second Analysis of Failure and Hopefulness, where chance chemical reactions have created spectral landscapes that hint at a volatile future.
In contrast, works on paper recall ’60s and ’70s graphic art, and focus on a period when progressive ideas of a utopian future were based on an imaginary rather than a present reality. These science fiction dreams feature a post-human society including strange creatures and fantastic machines. Enigmatic titles, such as Our Spies Saw an Early Pollination Season on the Horizon, offer new dimensions and narratives to the images. For all their comic cartoon absurdity, these visions darkly foretell a post-apocalyptic future.
The Stars Were Aligned For a Century of New Beginnings is the first UK solo exhibition in a public institution by Basim Magdy, offering audiences significant opportunity to experience this exciting artist’s work. Basim Magdy is Deutsche Bank’s “Artist of the Year” 2016, and the exhibition is organised in cooperation with Deutsche Bank. It had its premiere at Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, Berlin, before travelling to MAXXI, Rome and MCA, Chicago. For Arnolfini, the artist has worked on an expanded presentation that brings together newly produced work with existing projects.
About Basim Magdy
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.