Basim Magdy’s multi-faceted practice brings to light a hallucinogenic and satirical universe, where notions of past, present and future float within the same realm. His depictions of dreamlike scenarios propose alternative realities, whilst aiming to deconstruct dogmatic thinking.
Magdy has created many images of rather colourful dreamlike narratives, each of which also possesses an evocative title. The images can be seen as portals to a world of parallel situations, somehow reflecting events and advancements in our own world — whether diplomatic, civic or ritualistic. Neither utopian or dystopian, and somehow occupying a more ambiguous domain, the images tell us about the literal inability of the human psyche to offer new paths into the future, rather repeating the same ideas and mistakes, over and over, in a banal yet violent cycle of action and defeat.
In the film On the Good Earth the artist combines constructed footage together with audio of the 1969 televised broadcast of Apollo 8 astronauts Bill Anders, Jim Lovell and Frank Borman describing the surface of the moon as their space capsule orbits around it. The astronauts ended the broadcast by reading the first ten verses of The Book of Genesis, causing some controversy. Legal proceedings were taken against NASA to ban the astronauts, as public-sector employees, from prayer in space. Satirically depicting some astronauts behind bars, the film considers this curious situation of when the secular tenet of restricting religious practices to within the private sphere, and away from public sphere, is applied to outer space. The film is accompanied by a set of postage stamps issued the following year to honour the Apollo 8 mission. They depict a detail of the famous image Earthrise, taken by Bill Anders on Christmas Eve, accompanied by the words “In the beginning God…”.
Basim Magdy lives and works in Basel.
Basim Magdy's works are presented at Röda Sten Konsthall.
Supported by Pro Helvetia
Installation view WheredoIendandyoubegin – On Secularity, Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art 2017, Röda Sten Konsthall. Photo Hendrik Zeitler.