Egyptian artists are participating in the 56th Venice Biennale with an installation titled Peace.
The installation at the Egyptian pavilion was commissioned by Hany El-Ashakar and designed by Ahmed Abdel-Fattah, Maher Dawoud, and Gamal El-Kheshen.
The audience is invited to explore the path of peace by walking around five three-dimensional shapes, covered with grass, that form letter of the word "peace" in Arabic, which also means "paradise."
"Peace is the nature of creation, which all religions concurred upon," write the artists in the notes accompanying the work. "It is a neutral natural alignment, which makes a balance between construction and destruction."
By raising the "contradicting and twin ideas" of destruction and construction, the artists say their work "depends on the intuitive vision beyond the reality, which sets our intention and reaction."
A number of tablets are attached to the installation and before entering the hall, the viewer can set a programme of augmented reality on his mobile phone, laptop or on display screens inside the hall. The two options are revealed, one negative and one positive, and the audience is free to choose either.
That choice leads to a series of different embodiments of the five letters of the word that involves visual and realistic interaction between the viewer and the installation.
"The visitors will go through a virtual journey which will allow them to immerse in an atmosphere of harmony and peace. However, technology of the 21st century will enable [them] to enhance the value of this virtual journey and the confrontation between the two eternal choices of the human life: light/virtue and dark/vice," the artistic statement reads.
The installation is accompanied by the sounds of wind, nature and soft music.
Egypt Pavilion and Peace installation at Venice Biennale (Photo: Dorota Metwaly)
Born in 1983, artist Maher Dawoud is a teacher at the mural department of the faculty of fine arts at Helwan University, Cairo, and also participates in various mosaics projects in Egypt and internationally. Dawoud usually focus on larger artistic projects in which he often combines contemporary mosaic, video, photography, sculpture.
Ahmed Abdel-Fattah, who specialises in sculpture, was born in 1977. Like Dawoud, he is a graduate of the faculty of fine arts at Helwan University. He has participated in a number of solo and group exhibitions in Egypt and several group exhibitions outside the country, with a focus on contemporary Arab sculpture.
Gamal El-Kheshen is also a graduate of the same faculty, graduating in 2010. Specialising in drawing, printmaking and design, he currently teaches at the faculty.
The artists' participation at the 56th Venice Biennale comes after they won a national competition launched by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture.
The Biennale opened on 9 May at two grounds, at the Giardini and Arsenale, and will continue until 22 November.
Viewers walk in front of the Egypt Pavilion and Peace installation at Venice Biennale's Giardini area. (Photo: Dorota Metwaly)
Egypt Pavilion and Peace installation at Venice Biennale. (Photo: Dorota Metwaly)
Egypt Pavilion and Peace installation at Venice Biennale. (Photos: Dorota Metwaly)
Egypt Pavilion visible behind the trees of Venice Biennale's Giardini area. (Photo: Dorota Metwaly)