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A screening room for programming about media arts, activism, and mediated experience

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Basim Magdy

A film program about the desire for social change and the struggle to achieve it

Organizing Institutions

Slought, University of Pennsylvania Department of English

Organizers

Orchid Tierney

Opens to public

03/23/2018

Time

1pm, 4pm

Tags
  • Environments
  • Media
  • Modernity

Slought is pleased to announce a screening of 13 Essential Rules for Understanding the World, a film by Basim Magdy, on Friday March 23, 2018 at 1pm and 4pm in the Mediatheque, and online from March 23 through April 6, 2018. This film program has been organized in conjunction with the Environments of Modernity symposium, which aims to assess the cultural, historical, and political affordances of the "environmental" concept for contemporary thought.

13 Essential Rules for Understanding the World (2011) was released in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. In the film, Magdy destabilizes rationalist constructions of "knowledge," "nature," and "environment," and with absurdist humor interrogates contemporary approaches to social engagement. A poetic sequence of encounters with nature and the world — a star flyer, a woman balancing on a rock— punctuate the tulips' prescriptions, while the noisy hum of a super 8 projector invites us to reflect upon the media conventions that shape our perceptions. The film touches upon something existential in our rift from ecology, here expanded to include memory, the flow of capital, and social actions.

Parodying the instructional film genre, Magdy's 13 Essential Rules is a succinct comment on the practices, contexts, and structures of worldly knowledge. With a monotone delivery, the narrator seemingly discourages advancement, progress, action, or independent thought. "Never try to make a point," he says. "No one will ever care." And yet, the film's melodramatic affect does not wholly fall into nihilism and at times verges on the playful and comedic. In the film, the tension between aspiration and prohibition encapsulates our collective desire for social change and the difficult struggle to achieve it. This fissure between the narrative of defeatism and repeating images of hand drawn faces on tulips also leads us to contemplate the ambiguities, unfairness, and unknowability of life itself. "Life," the narrator reminds us, "is a tangled web of unexpected events."

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Basim Magdy is an Egyptian painter, photographer, and filmmaker, who lives and works in Basel and Cairo. His work has been recently exhibited at Mathaf, Qatar; Arnolfini, Bristol; hunt kastner, Prague; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Jeu de Paume, Paris; CAPC Musée d'Art Contemporain de Bordeaux; and MAXXI National Museum of the 21st Century Arts, Rome. His numerous awards include the Deutsche Bank Artist of the Year (2016); Experimental Award, Curtas Vila do Conde International Film Festival, Portugal (2015); Abraaj Art Prize, Dubai (2014), and New:Vision Award, CPH:DOX Film Festival, Copenhagen (2014).

Film

Basim Magdy
13 Essential Rules for Understanding the World
2011, 5 min
Super 8 film transferred to HD video


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