by Wael Shawky
We offer an exceptional opportunity to see on a big screen two parts of a monumental film project by the Egyptian artist Wael Shawky.
The movies Cabaret Crusades: The Horror Show File and Cabaret Crusades: The Path to Cairo make up a masterpiece dedicated to crusades reinterpreted based on Arab chronicler’s recounts and Arab historical documents. Amin Maalouf’s book The Crusades through Arab Eyes was an inspiration for the script. Altogether, the two parts encompass events that took place over a fifty two year span. The first part concerns the years of the Justinian Plague in the Byzantine Empire and the first crusade (1096-1099), while the second part refers to the period between the end of the first crusade in 1099 and start of the second one in 1147.
The convention of the movies is a blend of a puppet show with elements of a musical film, science-fiction program, Nativity plays and a horror show. They were made possible thanks to the artist’s collaboration with more than 200 persons – musicians, puppet makers and specialists in pyrotechnics. 200 years old figurines from the Lupi collection in Turin were used in the production of the first part. All the puppets “starring” in the second part (more than 130 figurines representing Christians, Muslims, kings, caliphs, popes, martyrs and saints) were created during workshops in Provence, France, according to w 18th century technique called Santons – china dolls used in Nativity plays. The second part of the movie was shot in a cathedral in Aubagne, France. The premiere took place during the exhibition “dOCUMENTA 13” in Kassel, Germany.
Wael Shawky (born in 1971, Alexandria, Egypt) is a filmmaker and video installation artist, a founder and art director at the art institution Mass Alexandria.