Collection Focus: Basim Magdy

April 30 – June 13, 2018

Basim Magdy: The Dent

Project Space Art Jameel

Opening hours: 10am – 6pm on Saturday, Monday-Thursday and Sunday by appointment only

In March 2018, Art Jameel and the Abraaj Group Art Prize announced a new collaboration, with the full collection of works, commissioned over the ten years of the prize (2008-2018) moving to the Jameel Arts Centre on long-term loan.

Art Jameel is committed to exhibiting the works to a broad public through its own arts spaces, as well as by maintaining an active loans policy. To mark this new initiative, Project Space Art Jameel’s summer programming features a solo exhibition of Basim Magdy’s film, The Dent, the 2014 Abraaj Group Art Prize winning commission.

Starting with shiny rooftops and ending with the seemingly insignificant demise of the last circus elephant of its kind, The Dent weaves together loosely linked events and irrational occurrences to reflect upon collective failure and hopefulness. An anonymous little town dreams of international recognition, even as it becomes obvious that its efforts are misguided. The spectre of defeat may only be countered by maintaining a shared delusion, which keeps growing even as its residents continue to labour and make sacrifices.

Basim Magdy’s moving image work layers film footage and text to produce a surrealistic visual essay, balancing the bleakness of contemporary conditions with sensitive humour. Shot between Paris, New York, Brussels, Quebec, Basel, Madeira, Prague and Venice, among other locations, the scenes are lent an aura similar to that of early cinema by the familiar grain and saturated tones of 16mm film, a medium that the artist favours. Magdy’s film draws from life, capturing absurd details and everyday beauty, seeking the uncanny within manmade environments.

Ambient sound and music combine with text authored by the artist, deliberately composed to create a hypnotic sensory experience and making implausible events seem briefly possible.

The exhibition is part of the Collection Focus series at the Project Space featuring single works from the Art Jameel Collection.

The Dent is on long-term loan to Art Jameel by The Abraaj Group Art Prize Collection.


Basim Magdy Biography

Basim Magdy was born in 1977 in Assiut, Egypt, and lives and works between Basel and Cairo. His work appeared recently in solo and group exhibitions at MoMA The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Arnolfini, Bristol; Castello di Rivoli, Torino; MCA Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; New Museum Triennial, New York; MAXXI National Museum of the 21st Century Arts, Rome; Jeu de Paume, Paris; CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art, Bordeaux; Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, Berlin; Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-On-Hudson, New York; Whitechapel Gallery, London; KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; The Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw; La Biennale de Montreal, Montreal; MEDIACITY Seoul Biennial; 13th Istanbul Biennial; Sharjah Biennial 11; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; The High Line, New York; La Triennale: Intense Proximity, Palais de Tokyo, Paris. He was shortlisted for the Future Generation Art Prize, Kiev (2012) and won the Abraaj Group Art Prize, Dubai and the New:Vision Award, CPH:DOX Film Festival, Copenhagen (2014) and the Experimental Award at the Curtas Vila do Conde – International Film Festival, Portugal (2015). He was selected as Deutsche Bank’s 2016 Artist of the Year (2016). His films were the subject of special screening programmes at Tate Modern, International Film Festival Rotterdam, ICA London among many others.



Image courtesy:

Basim Magdy, The Dent, 2014, Super 16mm film transferred to Full HD video. 19 min 02 sec. (Commissioned by the Abraaj Group Art prize 2014)