Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art at Qatar Foundation presents Wael Shawky: Crusades and Other Stories, a major solo exhibition by internationally acclaimed Egyptian artist Wael Shawky, which will run from 17 March to 16 August 2015.

Presented by Qatar Museums (QM) under the leadership of its Chairperson, HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the exhibition is curated by Abdellah Karroum, Director of Mathaf. Karroum said:

Wael Shawky touches on subjects of history and political and social change, while re-thinking models of artistic practice to invent new visual languages. His films, installations, and performances explore histories of culture and literature in the contemporary moment by recreating written and oral testaments of societal, economic, and political change.’

Occupying the atrium and ground floor galleries at Mathaf, Shawky presents large-scale installations of two film trilogies – Cabaret Crusades (2010 – 2015) and Al Araba Al Madfuna (2012 – 2015). The three films that make up Cabaret Crusades were produced over a period of four years, the most recent being commissioned by QM in 2014 as part of its focus on art, creativity and heritage. The script and structure of the film series Cabaret Crusades draw on sources of writing from the period as presented in Amin Maalouf’s The Crusades Through Arab Eyes (1983), referencing the historical fight for power that is still present today.

Shawky was born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1971. His practice spanning video, drawing, and performance are in-depth productions about the way history and mythology are written, offering crucial perspectives on contemporary narratives of uncertainty and change. Shawky is a major artist of his generation, developing an original art vocabulary dealing with global aesthetic and political issues. His work is exhibited internationally, most recently in solo exhibitions at MoMA PS1, New York (2015); K20, Düsseldorf (2014); Serpentine Gallery, London (2013); KW Berlin (2012); and large scale group exhibitions including Sharjah Biennial (2013); and dOCUMENTA (13) (2012). His work is collected by public institutions such as MoMA, New York, MACBA, Barcelona, and QM.

The exhibition will also premiere a new film commissioned by Mathaf for the exhibition, completing the three-part series, Al Araba Al Madfuna (2012 – 2015), a re-telling of the stories of Egyptian novelist Mohamed Mustagab.

Also included is a selection of marionettes (puppets) from the Cabaret Crusades and drawings from both video trilogies. The architecture and scenography produced for Mathaf creates an original atmosphere that combine the artist’s references of history, literature and cinema, through which other stories are imagined.

A fully illustrated bilingual Arabic-English exhibition catalogue will be published by Mathaf. The publication will contain an interview with Shawky conducted by Karroum and essays, providing insight into the artistic process of Shawky.

For more information, visit Mathaf’s website.