Wael Shawky

Collective Gallery, Edinburgh, Sat 31 Mar-Sat 21 Apr


Collective Gallery’s exhibition program resumes with a solo show of work by Egypt born Wael Shawky. Shawky’s work is multifarious but deals primarily with culture and religion, juxtaposing, comparing and contrasting one with the other.

Bearing a degree of cultural cynicism, his video and installation work presents works that have many cross-cultural references.

His location screening of, ‘Al Aqsa Park’ marks the opening of the exhibition, a monochrome animation of Jerusalem’s ‘Al Masjed Al Aqsa’ mosque spinning on an axis. The work deals directly with a number of complex religious issues, while maintaining a beauty that does not cut the work off from a varied interpretation.

Shawky’s work is concerned with encroaching capitalist influences, typified in his video ‘The Cave’, a film in the style of a news broadcast documenting the artist walking around a supermarket reciting a section of the Koran - scrolling English subtitles working as translator. Shawky uses the subtitle as a metaphor, in part, for the cross-cultural translations that the work deals with.

Shawky’s meticulously constructed, culturally-hybrid works directly address the concepts of translation and the differences in their interpretation. The ‘first in the UK’ tag in this instance is not mere hype - it indeed has significance. The reception of Shawky’s work in this country will add to and cultivate the complexity of his theoretically rich subject matter.

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