Kunstsammlung NRW
Wael Shawky, Foto: Arnika Fürgut / Kunstsammlung
making of

Wael Shawky: Behind the Scenes of "Cabaret Crusades: The Secrets of Karbala"

An initial behind the scenes look: the Egyptian artist Wael Shawky has set up his studio in the F3 Schmela Haus of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, where he is at work intensively completing his video trilogy Cabaret Crusades. Under the title The Secrets of Karbala, Part 3, it continues a narrative of the medieval Crusades from an Arab perspective, and will receive its world premiere in early December at the K20 am Grabbeplatz.

For #32, Gerd Korinthenberg and Arnika Fürgut looked over his shoulder.

The project began with detailed research into the historical events that began with the Second Crusade of 1147. Historical texts, medieval miniatures, and views of townscapes inspired the artist – who was born in Alexandria in 1971 – to create the stage sets before which his marionettes reenact these dramatic events in a defamiliarized way. Parts 1 and 2 of the trilogy were already highly-regarded discoveries at documenta 13 in Kassel.



Scenery designs for the buildings are created initially in clay, or else take form as rapid sketches on paper: the locations are, among others, the cities of Cairo and Aleppo in northern Syria, the arenas – then as now – of bitter political and military conflicts. The team around Shawky discussed the question of which ideas were realizable for the marionette video.



The exhibition "Wael Shawky: Cabaret Crusades"  at the K20 Grabbeplatz will open on September five, 2014. In the show, Parts 1 and 2 of "Cabaret Crusades" will be screened as space-filling projections. Parallel to the exhibition, and in cooperation with the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Part 3, entitled "The Secrets of Karbala," will be produced in the same room, and premiered on December 4.

Text: Gerd Korinthenberg, photos: Arnika Fürgut / Kunstsammlung