Al-Araba al-Madfuna Wael Shawky’s solo exhibition

Duration:2017.09.03 - 2018.01.14

Venue:MOCA Yinchuan

Throughout his career, Wael Shawky has displayed a sustained interest in the role of metaphysics, myth and the real narrative in the production of social identity.

Al Araba Al Madfuna project is based on the artist personal experience when in 2004 visited al Araba al Madfouna village in Upper Egypt. He met local people looking to find secrets of their ancestors and excavating to unearth Pharaonic artifacts by using various metaphysical methods.

Eight years later he decided to translate his journey by making a film trilogy. He employed large casts of child actors from different Egyptian villages. The children in the films are reciting short stories written by Egyptian author Mohamed Mustajab while taking part in seemingly unrelated ritualistic actions.

In the first film, a ring of boys tell The J-B-Rs, a tale of a small village that goes through disconcerting anatomical metamorphoses as it adopts a series of new livestock animals. In the second film, a larger cast recites excerpts from two stories, Horsemen Adore Perfumes and The Offering, as they explore pigeon house ruins of an abandoned Egyptian village.

The final film is taken place in the temples of Seti the first and Osirion in the archeological city of Abydos, nowadays the village of Al Araba Al Madfuna. Colors and illuminations are inverted while the children are narrating Mustajab’sSunflower. In the story the sunflower is a metaphor for inventing change and adopting a new idea. The village transforms the meaning of a plant that had no value into the only worthy treasure.

Shawky's robust command of spatial theatrics and portentous atmospherics echoes the haunted tone of the films themselves, which immerse the viewer in prophetic auguries, tales of cursed villages, and apocalyptic visions.

Curator:Suchen Hsieh

Co-curator: Mai Eldib

Host Organizations

MOCA Yinchuan

Yinchuan Binhe New District Investment Development (Group) co., LTD

Guiding Organizations

Cultural Department of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region

Management Committee Of Yinchuan Binhe New District

Yinchuan Municipal Bureau of Press Publication Radio Film and Television


Ningxia Minsheng Culture and Art Education Foundation