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- Author Wael Shawky
- Date of production 2007
- Duration 18’09”
- Author's designation none
- ID no. BS/1040
- Availability in stock
- Acquired date 2013
- Object copyright Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art
- Digital images copyright © all rights reserved, Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art
- Digitalisation Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art
In the film Digital Church Wael Shawky tries to connect two worlds, the Christian and the Islamic, by staging the surah devoted to the life of Mary, mother of Jesus, recorded in the holy book of Muslims, in the space of the Catholic church. The artist uses the sung recitation of verses, which is traditional for the Islamic world, using the Arabic language, until recently recognized as the only language in which the text of the Quran has a prayer value. Although the recited surah refers to events well-known to Christian believers, the form of its conveyance is strange and confusing to them, and may even – due to the choice of the place of recitation – be perceived as blasphemous.more
In the film Digital Church Wael Shawky tries to connect two worlds, the Christian and the Islamic, by staging the surah devoted to the life of Mary, mother of Jesus, recorded in the holy book of Muslims, in the space of the Catholic church. The artist uses the sung recitation of verses, which is traditional for the Islamic world, using the Arabic language, until recently recognized as the only language in which the text of the Quran has a prayer value. Although the recited surah refers to events well-known to Christian believers, the form of its conveyance is strange and confusing to them, and may even – due to the choice of the place of recitation – be perceived as blasphemous.
The film makes us think about how religions, based on similar assumptions and stories, can become a cause for permanent and bloody conflicts between individuals and groups of people. He points out how strongly religion can become entangled in politics, and political-religious decisions can discourage engaging in cultural dialogue – one such example is Islamic fundamentalism – which was born as a result of the weakening of the Muslim world at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries. The ideas of reform, constructed at the time by Islamic thinkers in response to the domination of the West in the political and civilizational arena, developed in two ways: while some representatives headed towards modernization, departing from the rules of the Quran and separating the state from religion, based on the Western model, others – acknowledging such tendencies as being a threat to their own identity – decided to cut themselves off from external influences and attempts at dialogue and returned to the sources (foundations) of faith and culture, in order to restore the former power of Islam.
Emphasizing the dissonance arising at the meeting point of different cultures and religions, the artist seeks to find space for dialogue between them. While showing the similarity of the converted content and the diversity of form and language, it compels viewers to ask questions about truth, myth, and stereotypes related to cultural identity and religiousness. It inspires them to undertake an in-depth analysis of the separateness and similarities of individual cultures and nationalities, to seek understanding between different civilizations, and to start cooperation between them in place of competition.
Elaborated by Vera Zalutskaya (Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art),
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.
Wael Shawky (born 1971) is a visual artist. He is a graduate of the University of Alexandria and the University of Pennsylvania. Resorting various media such as film, drawing, photography, and performance, the artist explores and analyses real and imagined stories and narratives of the Arab world. The stories he creates touch on the subject of identity in the perspective of nationality, culture, religion, and the status of the artist. He is the author of individual exhibitions, including: the Way of Forty Days (Bunkier Sztuki Gallery of Contemporary Art, Kraków, 2007), Clean History (The Townhouse Gallery for Contemporary Art, Cairo, 2009), Wael Shawky. Al Araba El Madfuna (Kunst-Werke, Berlin, 2012), Wael Shawky (The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, 2013), dictum (Lisson Gallery, London, 2014), Cabaret Crusades: The Path to Cairo (MACBA, Barcelona, 2015), Wael Shawky (PS1, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2015), Al Araba Al Madfuna (Fondazione Merz, Turin, 2016). He has taken part in many collective exhibitions, including: DOCUMENTA (13) (Kassel, 2012), A History of Inspiration (Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2013), Manifesta 10 (St. Petersburg, 2014), Gallery 3010 (Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut, 2015), Outside the sentence there was a city (SALT, Istanbul, 2016), The Song of Roland: The Arabic Version (Kampnagel, Hamburg, 2017), Imaginary Asia (Nam June Paik Art Centre, Yongin, 2017). He lives and works in Alexandria.