Wael Shawky’s (Egyptian, b. 1971) multidisciplinary practice explores, in novel and pertinent ways, transitional events in the politics, culture, and religion of the Arab World. Following a screening of his video Cabaret Crusades: The Path to Cairo (2012)—the second of four planned installments inspired by Lebanese author Amin Maalouf’s seminal 1983 book The Crusades through Arab Eyes—the artist joins us to discuss the project. In this installment, which covers the 46 years from the end of the First Crusade, in 1099, to the beginning of the Second Crusade, in 1147, a cast of marionettes, representing actual historical figures, enacts Shawky’s highly original approach to staging and filming history. Structured in acts, the work translates historical documents and facts into musical numbers and Grand Guignol performances, creating a surreal, mythical atmosphere. This perplexing, evocative story blends drama and irony to highlight how these remote historical events cou ld hardly be more topical today.
In the Film exhibitions Mapping Subjectivity: Experimentation in Arab Cinema from the 1960s to Now, Part III and Modern Mondays
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