Basim Magdy’s The Dent is a multi-layered video that combines documentary footage, field recordings and written text by the artist. The video is being exhibited for the first time in the UAE since it debuted at Art Dubai in 2014 as a commission by the Abraaj Group Art Prize.

Basim Magdy, The Dent, Project Space Art Jameel, Courtesy of Project Space Art Jameel & the artist.

The layers of film footage and text produce a surrealistic visual essay, balancing the bleakness of contemporary conditions with sensitive humour. Magdy uses banal scenes such as men working on putting up scaffolding or people milling about outside the entrance to a museum and then overlays them with colourful and oddly surreal footage such as cellular organisms moving under a microscope. Flashes of the natural world are juxtaposed with industrial machinery and the entire film is narrated by a silent poem, which the artist has composed to expose the absurdity of existence as well as a meditation on the future. Shot between Paris, New York, Brussels, Quebec, Basel, Madeira, Prague and Venice, the narrative could be set in any town or city – a concept that resonates now as well as in the future, as we hurtle into the age of globalisation.

This exhibition is part of the collaboration between Art Jameel and the Abraaj Group Art Prize that was announced in March at Art Dubai. Under that agreement, Art Jameel have access to all the winning commissioned works of the prize, which began in 2008. Over the next 10 years, the pieces will be in exhibitions at the new art centre, set to open on Dubai’s Creek before the end of 2018.

Project Space Art Jameel, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai
Until June 13


A version of this article appeared in print in Selections, Inventing Perspective #45, page 29.