Wael Shawky‘s first solo show at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, curated by Abdellah Karroum, includes the trilogy Cabaret Crusades (2010-2014), the three-part series, Al Araba Al Madfuna (2012-2015), and a selection of
marionettes and drawings from both film series.
Inspired by The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, an essay by Lebanese historian Amin Maalouf, the works chart the Catholic Church’s numerous campaigns to take over the Holy Land in and around Jerusalem, beginning with the early Crusades from 1096-99 that are depicted in Cabaret Crusades: The Horror Show Files (2010), and the First and Second Crusades from 1099-1145 in Cabaret Crusades: The Path to Cairo (2012).
The exhibition will feature these works and will debut the third and final part of the series alongside a selection of the marionettes from the trilogy.
Based on accounts from primary sources, the works complicate the traditional civilization clash narrative by including scenes that refute common notions of the era, setting the tone for the relationship between the Arab world and the West. Despite its macabre subject matter, the trilogy maintains a certain lightheartedness by employing marionettes in lieu of actors.