All of the drama: Wael Shawky’s feature-length opera for the Egyptian Pavilion in Venice

by Editorial Team

On the Venice Biennale 2024, the place decolonisation is on the forefront of the dialog, the Egyptian Pavilion’s Drama 1882 was probably the most in style shows through the occasion’s preview week. Famend artist Wael Shawky’s feature-length opera, staged and filmed in Alexandria, drew the longest queues within the Giardini and was many individuals’s ‘must-see’ advice. 

On this movie, Shawky, who seems at pivotal moments in historical past with a deal with Egypt and the Center East, considers the Urabi revolution towards British imperial rule. It follows Colonel Ahmed Urabi, who based the Egyptian Nationalist Occasion with the purpose of reaching independence. Occasions construct up right into a full-scale British assault on Alexandria, and Urabi’s subsequent exile. Drama 1882 explores the chain of occasions that led as much as this inflection level in a manner that sheds gentle on each historical past and the world at the moment. An enormous manufacturing in scale and scope, it’s an awe-inspiring work.

‘Drama 1882’, Wael Shawky’s opera for the Egyptian Pavilion in Venice

Wael Shawky, Drama 1882, 2024

(Picture credit score: © Wael Shawky. Courtesy of Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Lisson Gallery, Lia Rumma, and Barakat Modern)

‘We began this entire thought about this exhibition, earlier than the autumn and what’s taking place at the moment in Gaza, however now after all it is linked and it is making sense,’ Shawky says to Wallpaper*, talking exterior the exhibition. ‘Usually, I don’t wish to  work in a reactionary manner as an artist, when there’s a huge occasion like this taking place. I all the time like to return – I am going again to 200 years in the past – and attempt to analyse historical past, to see the way it pertains to the current.’

Supply: Wallpaper

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