Shady El Noshokaty, a visual artist and assistant professor at The American University in Cairo’s (AUC) Performing and Visual Arts Department, is organizing an installation of the late avant-garde artist, Ahmed Basiony who was killed by snipers on January 28 during Egypt’s Friday of Wrath protest in Tahrir Square. The installation event took place today at the Egyptian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.
Basiony was one of Egypt’s most important contemporary artists. His life ended at age 32, and his untimely death immediately made him a symbol for inspiration among Egyptians determined to see their nation freed from repression. A man who died for his country; an artist honored for his courage and his love, Basiony generated a following amongst his friends, colleagues, and students proud to learn from his life, and eager to give to the cause he stood for in Tahrir Square.
A year prior to the uprisings, Basiony worked on a project titled 30 Days of Running in Place. A performance piece, the artist wore a sensor-fused plastic suit he designed that measured how much he perspired and how many steps he took while jogging for an hour daily over the course of thirty days. The data was wirelessly transferred on a large screen that displayed a grid of colors that changed according to the consumption of energy and the output of perspiration. The project was intended to represent how thirty years under Mubarak regime produced no gains beyond wasted energy. His work is among the first of a new generation of young Egyptian artists who use their art to articulate the political, economic and social conditions that Egyptian society endured under an oppressive government.
“There is no better opportunity than to display his last project, Thirty Days Running in Place, at the greatest artistic event of the year, the Venice Biennial,” said El Noshokaty, who is both the curator of the exhibition and Basiony’s longtime friend. “Basiony struggled every moment of his life to determine a life in this country with dignity,” continued El Noshokaty.
The Venice Biennale has been one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world since the first International Art Exhibition was organized in 1895. It has been at the forefront in the research and promotion of new artistic trends. The Biennale today has an attendance of over 370,000 visitors.
The AUC Press will publish the biography of Ahmed Basiony in the fall of 2012, complementing its suite of publications documenting aspects of Egypt’s revolution and the Arab Spring. The book will detail Basiony’s conceptual process and will address his relation to the emergence of interactive multimedia art and open source global movements across art and cultures. The book will publish important articles written by the some of the most important writers and art critics in Egypt and in the Middle East.