Eden-Like Garden; Egyptian Artists Group Show at the 59th Edition of Venice Biennale21 Aug 2022
Cecilia Alemani, the supervisor of the Venice Biennale 2022, has selected "The Milk of Dreams" as the title of this edition. After a long hiatus due to the Coronavirus pandemic, this major international event resumed its activity, trying to respond to questions and doubts expressed by the artists during the last two years about humans, daily life, and the world. By introducing three artists, Egypt established a pavilion in Giardini at the 59th edition of the Venice Biennale.
Eden-Like Garden is the title of a group installation executed by these three Egyptian artists. It is a space saturated with pink color that visually describes a promised land surrounding the pavilion's environment with its stunning features of fertility. The installation's embodiment relies on an artificial intelligence medium and an extraction of a uterus, repeated throughout the pavilion's space, providing a place for birth, a new start, and a spiritual connection. The gigantic, pink objects hanging from the ceiling emphasize seven, the sacred number in many religions and civilizations; the world that was created in seven days, the act of Tawaf which should be repeated seven times, seven sacred mysteries of the church, and seven deadly sins.
Visitors of the Egyptian pavilion face a delusional, repetitive, yet simple space. There are several huge, pink structures on the surface of which astonishing images with a unique, gender-oriented centrality are projected while carrying a sense of holiness, an existence embodied visually to recreate meaning for humanity. The images projected on organic, pink shapes are created with an open-source artificial intelligence software fed with information and concepts about philosophy and the world's existence, including the nature of the world, life after death, passing the limbo stage, etc. Mohamed Shoukry, Ahmed El Shaer, and Weaam El Masry are three artists who have cooperatively created this installation. It is an experimental, dynamic installation, the visual and auditory results of which are produced by the artificial intelligence system with different outputs varying amazingly according to the time and date in which the device was fed.
There is a meaning embedded at the heart of the installation that engages the human in an endless struggle between images, oscillating between human nature and the volition they achieve throughout their life. On the one hand, there is a human instinct that will finally be satisfied at some point. But the more significant challenge is confronting the volition that won't stop until it reaches a persistent balance. The space that is designed by the Egyptian artists is described as: "We are faced with a state of confusion. and Turbulent thoughts are overwhelming us. Where do we find meaning? What's our purpose? Why we are never satisfied? Our minds are incapable of finding answers. The soul longs for peace and serenity. We seek stability… Perhaps salvation lies in the rebirth, from a womb where all things are formed, a new beginning, a space for purification and salvation for the wretched who has been exhausted by doubts of life, longing for eternal peacefulness… Perhaps surviving lies in a futuristic endeavor to obtain answers that are neutral and non-discriminatory. By feeding the algorithms with our dilemmas in hope of interpreting what we have been unable to find definitive answers for, throughout the ages. We might be surprised by the visuals and sounds formed in the womb of the future. It will make us realize what our minds were unable to comprehend, hoping that the unplanned confrontation would make us realize the things around us in a different way in a world blinded by algorithms."
Behind the repeating colors and structures of the installation created by the three Egyptian artists, one can perceive the act of questioning, which is a result of an endless weariness. It seems that art is not limited to beauty, color, and attractiveness for today's artists. They look for answers to fundamental questions lost in a world full of contemporary technologies. It seems that humans, whose daily life activities are becoming easier day by day due to the rapid development of technology, now find moments, hours, and days to return to themselves and have access to nothing but imaginations to attain answers to their endless questions about being. Similarly, the unfamiliar, different, and delusional outputs produced by the artificial intelligence system every single time may serve to satisfy the rebellious and questioning mind of the contemporary human for a while. Artificial intelligence, as a tool for expression, is the fundamental basis for the group installation by Egyptian artists at their country's pavilion.
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