Newman Popiashvili gallery is pleased to present A Steady Progress of Nothingness, the third solo exhibition at the gallery by Egyptian artist Basim Magdy. The artist will present a film, a slide projection and paintings.
Magdy’s titles for his works and exhibitions always play on the idea of human achievement through the ages, but hints at the ultimate failure that occurs with each generation. Highlighting this idea in My Father Looks For An Honest City, 2010, Magdy asked his own father to reenact Diogenes of Sinope’s philosophical statement of carrying a lamp in daytime. Diogenes, who was one of the founders of the philosophy of cynicism, was most known by his repeated act of carrying a lamp in daylight supposedly “looking for an honest man.”
Magdy filmed his father walking through a transformative urban landscape with a flashlight in hand – a city that is suspended in the process of construction. The backdrop of generic unfinished structures partially urbanized and still full of nature, allowing images of petrified wood, doves, fake palm trees, stray dogs, and a flashlight to evolve as dystopian protagonists.
The double slide projection titled A 240 Second Analysis Of Failure And Hopefulness (with Coke, Vinegar And Other Tear Gas Remedies), 2012, consists of 160 color slides shown on two synchronized slide carousel projectors. Shot over a period of one month and developed through an elaborate process of exposure to common household chemicals, the images depict a demolition site as it emerges into a construction one. For this process, Magdy has selected liquids such as vinegar, coca cola and others, which have been used as anti tear–gas remedies by revolutionaries throughout the Middle East over the past two years.
Once applied to the slide film, the household chemicals distort the color palette of the slides in unusual ways, resulting in an unlimited number of variations. Magdy is especially interested in exploring the analogue photographic medium at this particular period because of the limited time before the film ceases to exist completely. The projects produced in this expiring medium, however, will remain as evidence to the incredible generosity and flexibility this medium has offered.
Both the slide projection and the video deal with imagery of demolition and construction, bringing the sense of a real landscapes coupled with the tragic and abandoned desolation of our future. Basim Magdy continues to bring up the notions of failure and the search for something unknown.
Born in Assiut, Egypt, Magdy currently lives and works in Basel and Cairo. His work has recently appeared in La Triennale: Intense Proximity, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, curated by Okwui Enwezor; Newtopia, the State of Human Rights, Mechelen, Belgium, curated by Katerina Gregos; Sharjah Biennial, Sharjah, UAE, curated by Yuko Hasegawa; Future Generation Art Prize, PinchukArtCenter, Kiev, Ukraine, curated by Bjorn Geldhof. Upcoming shows in 2013 include the 13th Istanbul Biennial, Turkey, curated by Fulya Erdemci; Biennale Jogja XII, Indonesia, curated by Agung Hujatnikajennong and Sarah Rifky; and Dissident Futures at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, curated by Betti-Sue Hertz