In this video we have a look at Berlin-based artist Mohamad Said Baalbaki’s Fictional Museum at Cairo’s Hotel Viennoise, and speak with the artist about his work. Said Baalbaki’s conceptual exhibition presents itself as a museum, with exhibits (bones, objects, papers, photos etc.) that tell the fictional story of the German archaeologist Werner von Königswald and his discovery on an excavation site in Jerusalem on the eve of the First World War. The presentation specifically revolves around Al-Buraq, which is a winged horse with a man’s head featured in Islamic tradition related to the Pegasus of Greek mythology.
Mohamad Said Baalbaki’s Fictional Museum is part of a project, the artist is working on since several years. Since 2007, he has been exploring the mechanisms of perception within the context of the museum: “Why and how does an artefact presented in a museum convey the impression of utmost credibility and authenticity to the spectator? My research thus focuses on the authority and power of the museum as an institution and its reception by society.” The Al-Buraq project “…aims to show how much the perception of art depends on religious or ideological factors. Judging observations and research results – even those that seem to be utterly objective – depends on cultural conventions. Every interpretation of a work of art is thus tied to subjective motives and reasons.”
This is the third short film that was produced as part of the arts documentation workshop supported by the Swiss Arts Council, Pro Helvetia, and that we were invited to by the Egyptian Art TV channel Medrar TV, with the participants Medrar.TV, Mada Masr, Ahram Online Culture, and VernissageTV. This video is in Arabic language, with English subtitles (please activate subtitles in the video player).
Mohamad Said Baalbaki: Fictional Museum at Viennoise Hotel, Cairo (Egypt). Opening reception, May 10 & 12, 2014. Video by Esraa Elfeky, Heinrich Schmidt, Mohammad Helmy, and Rowan El Shimi. This video was produced as part of the arts documentation workshop supported by the Swiss Arts Council, Pro Helvetia.
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