Basim Magdy’s work is rooted in dreams, scientific theory and failed utopian ambitions. Full of humour and quiet melancholy, his works on paper and in film, photography and slide projection reflect on the present social and political climate and our collective failure as, in the desire for progress, we repeat the same mistakes over and over again in a recurring cycle of aspiration, action and defeat.
The Stars Were Aligned For a Century of New Beginnings is Basim Magdy’s first solo exhibition at a public institution in the UK. With a focus on the artist’s film work, the exhibition layers past, present and future, revealing social blueprints and ideologies that unfold across time. Two films produced in 2014, The Everyday Ritual of Solitude Hatching Monkeys and The Dent, present surreal alternative realities. Magdy often uses experimental techniques for developing super 8 or 16mm film using household chemicals in a process he calls “film pickling”, and the nostalgically blurred images and psychedelic colours created through this process combined with ambient soundtracks seem otherworldly, at once futuristic and outdated. Dreamlike scenes drift together, held by evocative, fragmentary narratives that, like many of Magdy’s works, exist somehow out of time and out of place.
“In recent years I have developed an interest in creating a language where image, text and sound don't respond to or illustrate one another too literally, where they float together in one container, sometimes meeting and other times drifting apart. In most cases there is a conclusion that doesn't offer an obvious resolution. This leaves gaps for the imagination, offering a different understanding of these elements while maintaining the work as one coherent entity.” Basim Magdy
A series of neon bright works on paper with spray paint, collaged elements, gouache, acrylics, and watercolors depict scenes that, for all their cartoon absurdity, darkly foretell a post apocalyptic vision of the future where machines are dominant over man. In An Apology of a Love Story that Crashed into a Whale (2016), a 64-part grid of text-layered photographic works, a series of seemingly unrelated images of architectural structures, objects and landscapes accumulate in a future archive of the present, questioning the way in which we pass on memories in order to shape our own future.
An offsite work, Advice for the Young and the Seekers of Sanity (2012), will be presented on Big Screen Bristol in Millennium Square. The work will be screened at variable times throughout the day, but can also be viewed at 3pm every weekday during the exhibition period, apart from 22 to 29 May, and 6 to 12 June.
The exhibition is part of the Deutsche Bank’s “Artist of the Year”-program and had its premiere at Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, Berlin, in 2016.