The Cave (2005)

Wael Shawky
The Cave
Digitised beta filmtape, colour, sound
13 minutes
Courtesy of © Wael Shawky; Courtesy Lisson Gallery.


Francis Alÿs selected The Cave (2005) by Wael Shawky

About the work:

The artist films himself standing in an Amsterdam supermarket reciting a surah from the Qur’an, entitled ‘The Cave’. The title is derived from the surah that Shawky recites from memory, a parable that encourages Muslims to migrate from Mecca to Medina to gain knowledge and power. In the story seven young men from a very small village believe in God, while the remaining villagers have no faith and want to kill the believers. The seven men escape and hide in a cave where God puts them to sleep for three hundred and nine years. After they awake, it is heralded as a miracle to the new generations. The location of the supermarket in the film is intended as a metaphor for capitalism.

This work has been exhibited at numerous international exhibitions including Tarjama/Translation Queens Museum of Art, New York (2009) and Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Ithaca, US (2010) 9th International Istanbul Biennial (2005); amongst others.

Screening and Booking Information

The Cave(2005)
Wael Shawky
Narrative Film | 13 minutes
Arabic with English subtitles

This film is a part of Genealogies in the Middle East and Latin America, which explores historical and contemporary relationships between artists in these regions and unfolds along narratives revealed by the artists' personal accounts that provide critical alternative perspectives and insights, decentralising dominant narratives, schools and paradigms produced and affirmed in the West.

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Wael Shawky: The Cave (2005)

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