The Department of the Arts at The American University in Cairo (AUC) will organize a large-scale memorial exhibition and a series of events, Basiony, on the late avant-garde artist Ahmed Basiony, who was killed by snipers on January 28, 2011 during Egypt’s Friday of Wrath protest in Tahrir Square. The exhibition will be held at three art institutions in Cairo: AUC’s Sharjah Art Gallery, Darb 1718 Contemporary Art and Culture Center, and ASCII Foundation for Contemporary Art Education. It will feature Basiony's innovative work in interactive digital art, sound art and performance, in addition to his influential work as an educator.
An educational exhibition centered on Basiony’s project, Thirty Days of Running in Place will be held at AUC’s Sharjah Art Gallery on September 23. A year prior to the uprisings, Basiony had worked on this project, where 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 30 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 30 years under the Mubarak regime produced no gains and just wasted energy. Basiony was among the first of a new generation of young Egyptian artists who use their work to articulate the political, economic and social conditions that Egyptian society endured under an oppressive government.
On October 6, a retrospective exhibition of Basiony’s sound art, performance and new media installation projects from 2007 to 2011will be held at Darb 1718 Contemporary Art and Culture Center. In addition, on October 20, an archival documentation of the experimental sound art workshops and other educational initiatives Basiony developed from 2004 to 2010 will be presented at ASCII Foundation for Contemporary Art Education. A series of talks and workshops will also be held in conjunction with the exhibition.
Basiony, whose life ended at 32 years of age, was one of Egypt’s significant contemporary artists who immediately became an emblem of inspiration for 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 an example amongst his friends, colleagues and students who were proud to learn from his life, and eager to give to the cause he stood for that fateful day,” said Shady El Noshokaty, associate professor in the Department of Arts and organizer of the event, “As we were always involved culturally and socially in the changes happening around us, we decided to organize these retrospective events. We are keen to focus on the Egyptian social movements, especially in post revolution modern Egypt,” he added.
Bruce Ferguson, dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences emphasized the importance of understanding the role that culture plays in politics - not just as an add-on or decoration but as an active player in the changes of consciousness and understanding of current conditions. “Within our mandate to produce critical thinkers in the society, the arts are central and AUC is honoring an important Egyptian artist as a way of confirming how important he is as an inspiration to our students,” he said