The Egyptian artist Wael Shawky is holding an exhibition of his most recent cinematic work at Palazzo Grimani in Venice as part of the 60th Venice Biennale. The film, titled I Am Hymns of the New Temples, was conceived by the artist in 2023 when he was invited by the Archaeological Park of Pompeii to contribute to its initiative of creating a long-term programme of contemporary art, with the intent of linking the park with the theme of cultural heritage.

During its heyday, Pompeii was a vibrant trade site, a nexus where the different cultures that had been incorporated into the Roman state coalesced in one spot. Shawky found this to be a fitting stage for this intricate play of intertwining narratives, with his actors and actresses donning masks of ceramic and papier mâché that portray gods and goddesses, men and women, caught up in ritualistic dances reminiscent of the ancient pagan mysteries.

Shawky creates in a variety of media, such as film, drawing, painting, sculpture and theater. The main thrust of his artistic work has been on confronting notions of national, religious and artistic identity.

Shawky's works have been featured at the Sfeir-Semler Gallery in Beirut, Lia Rumma in Milan, and Lisson Gallery in London. I am Hymns of the New Temples is screening at Palazzo Grimani from April 17 to June 30, 2024. For more information refer to the link here.

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