Biography

In photographs, installations, videos and performances, Wael Shawky mines traditions of entertainment and performance through multilayered historical reconstructions that force viewers to navigate the territory of truth, myth, stereotype and cliché.

Among Shawky’s major works are retellings of various accounts of the Crusades, including the large-scale music and theatre performance The Song of Roland: The Arabic Version (2017), which was co-produced by Sharjah Art Foundation, and Cabaret Crusades, the landmark film trilogy comprising The Horror Show File (2010), The Path to Cairo (2012) and The Secrets of Karbala (2015), which was supported in part by Sharjah Art Foundation.

Shawky’s work has been the subject of over 25 solo exhibitions at institutions such as Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Turin, Italy (2016); Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2016); Fondazione Merz, Turin (2016); MoMA PS1, New York (2015); Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (2015); Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany (2014); Sharjah Art Foundation (2014); Serpentine Gallery, London (2013); Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst, Aachen, Germany (2013); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2013); Art Gallery of York University, Toronto (2013); Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2012); Nottingham Contemporary, UK (2011); Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, UK (2011); Delfina Foundation, London (2011); Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto, Biella, Italy (2010) and Darat Al Funun, Amman (2009).

Recent screenings, performances and group exhibitions of Shawky’s work have taken place at March Meeting 2018: Active Forms, Sharjah Art Foundation (2018); Gangwon International Biennale, Korea (2018); Theater der Welt 2017, Kampnagel, Hamburg (2017); MOMENTUM – The Nordic Biennial of Contemporary Art, Moss, Norway (2017); Nam June Paik Center, Yongin, Korea (2017); Fondazione Merz, Turin (2017); Sharjah Art Foundation (2016); Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Brussels (2016); SALT, Istanbul (2016); Musée du Louvre, Paris (2015); Gwangju Biennial, Korea (2012, 2015); Istanbul Biennial (2005, 2011, 2015); Sydney Biennial (2014); Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlbæk, Denmark (2014); MAP – Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow, UK (2014); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2013); Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw (2013); Sharjah Biennial 11 (2013); dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany (2012) and Marrakesh Biennial, Morocco (2012), among others.

Shawky’s work can be found in the collections of Tate Modern, London; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf; Macro Museum, Rome; Darat Al Funun, Amman; Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Terento e Rovereto, Rovereto, Italy; Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg and Galeria Sztuki Wspolczesnej Bunkier Sztukim, Warsaw.

He has received numerous awards, including the inaugural Mario Merz Prize, Fondazione Merz, Turin, Italy (2015); Sharjah Biennial Prize (2013); Abraaj Group Art Prize, Dubai (2012); Schering Stiftung Art Award, Ernst Schering Foundation and KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2011) and Grand Prize, Alexandria Biennial, Alexandria, Egypt (2009).

Shawky was the Keith L. and Katherine S. Sachs Visiting Professor in the Department of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, US (2016–2017) and founder of MASS Alexandria, a studio space and educational programme for young artists (2010).

He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Alexandria University (1994) and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Pennsylvania (2001).

Born in 1971 in Alexandria, Shawky currently lives and works between Alexandria and Philadelphia.

This person was part of March Meeting 2018 and Sharjah Biennial 11. His work was the subject of the solo exhibition Wael Shawky: Horsemen Adore Perfumes and other stories (2014), co-produced by Sharjah Art Foundation.