A text for the catalogue of La Trienale, Palais de Tokyo, 2012

By Okwui Enwezor

The work of Basim Magdy is shaped by a diversity of techniques tailored to the subjects proposed by the artist. The graphical aspect, with its falsely naive side, nevertheless has an important place, mixing watercolors with aerosol and collage. The mix of painting, installation, and graphical techniques is used to criticize the media’s disinformation and the propaganda inherent in information systems often subject to a range of influences. He produces ironic stagings of scientific theories and ways of understanding the world. The futuristic theme in Magdy’s work particularly concerns the perception of our current culture and our imagined conception of the world.

Basim Magdy studied in the fine arts department at Helwan University in Cairo between 1996 and 2000. The artist, like the majority of artists in Egypt, was shaped more by contact with society than with art school. These videos, monumental paintings, and installations can be viewed as so many remains of film sets or moments of performance. The artist uses a visual language close to the popular vocabulary adopted by television and cinema. He hijacks the visual codes of documentaries and advertisements to narrate an original understanding and perception of the world around us. He also adopts, at times comically, the subjects of war and the overproduction of knowledge in order to denounce their colonizing aspects with regard to spaces of communication and exchange. The collection of works presented in Intense Proximity is testament to the critical character of the rhetoric of war and of humanity’s race toward an unknown future. The anxiety created by the media with regard to the future is sustained by the ever-increasing distance between the ease of producing images and the difficulty of gaining access to the reality of the actual and often unstable issues of civilization.