The work of Basim Magdy analyses contemporary representational regimes by staging experiences grounded in hybrid spatial, temporal, and social co-ordinates. His films, photographs and paintings create fluid environments, challenging the stable understanding of these concepts.
By weaving together locations which are left undefined, Magdy produces “non-places” which expand on Marc Augé’s conception: they are not only transitory locations but also embedded in a constant interconnected flow and therefore not circumscribed to specific spaces, but rather encompassing our whole symbolical and actual environments. This interrelatedness may be observed in the blurring of micro, macro and human scales enacted in Magdy’s portraits. The images used to blur spatial coordinates also construct a diffuse temporal framework where past and future coalesce in the present. His steady use of modernist tropes, as seen in the recurring presence of train tracks, signals his interest in analysing a period marked by utopias and a belief in progress. While bearing nostalgic features, Magdy’s gazing back is a proposal towards a present reassessment of the future through his questioning of naturalised readings of the past. By signalling our daily engagement with historical discourses and their interconnected structure, Magdy points out our ability to impact collective readings of the past and projections for the future.
The dreamlike tonality of his work, emerging out of the layered juxtapositions of time and space, is combined with the oneiric features of his soundscapes and with the manipulations imposed onto still and moving images. Resorting to filters, chemical emulations and layered framing, his images present a wide range of colours, effects, and textures of kaleidoscopic like quality. Similar to a hallucinogenic experience, these uncanny effects echo and reframe the utopian dreams of modernism by establishing what Lars Bang Larsen describes as an intimate relation with time and space that is yet unformed. Contrary to crystallised readings of psychedelia as a movement towards evasion, Magdy’s kaleidoscopic visions propose and enact ephemeral forms and strange temporalities that bridge subjective impulses with social space, reaching for ways to re-imagine life’s positioning in history.
Basim Magdy was born in 1977 in Assiut, Egypt, and lives and works in Basel and Cairo. You can read more about the artist and his work on his website .
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