Egyptian artist Hassan Khan wins Silver Lion of Venice Biennale

Ahram Online , Sunday 14 May 2017

Khan's winning project 'Composition for a Public Park' is a multichannel music and text piece installation in the Biennale's park

Hassan Khan
Composition for a Public Park, by Hassan Khan at the 'Viva Arte Viva' exhibition of the 57th Venice Biennale (Photos: Stills from video documentation shared on Facebook by the artist)

Contemporary Egyptian artist, musician and writer Hassan Khan was awarded the Silver Lion for a Promising Young Artist at La Biennale di Venezia, which opened yesterday with an awards ceremony.

Khan was awarded for his work Composition for a Public Park (2013/2017) displayed at the Giardio delle Vergini, which the artist described on his Facebook page as “a multichannel music and [Libretto] text piece in three movements, especially designed for public parks.”

Running till 26 November, La Biennale di Venezia is chaired by Paolo Baratta, and the 57th International Art Exhibition is titled VIVA ARTE VIVA, curated by Christine Macel. This year the Biennale included 120 invited artists from 51 countries.

The Biennale's Golden Lion for Best National Participation went to Germany, with a special mention to Brazil. The Golden Lion for the Best Artist of the Exhibition Viva Arte Viva went to German artist Franz Erhard Walther, with two special mentions for US artist Charles Atlas and Kosovo artist Petrit Halilaj.

The jury cited the motivation behind the selection as “the special and intimate relationship that his work establishes with the spectator, to whom he suggests a connection between voice, sound and the horizon. His [work] creates an immersive experience which beautifully intertwines the political and the poetic,” according to the Biennale website.

Khan was born in 1975 in the UK, and lives and works in Cairo. He was the president of the International Jury of the 54th International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale.

His diverse oeuvre features performance, site-specific projects, sculptures, photographs, video, and writings, as he constructs narratives from personal experiences to reflect on subjects centered on Egypt, be they events, individuals or features.

With a career extending back to 1990, Khan has had solo exhibitions in New York, São Paulo, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, and has composed soundtracks for theatre and performed his own compositions in Amsterdam, Istanbul, London, and Paris.

Parallel to the Biennale exhibition is a series of weekly Open Table talks by the artists to meet vistors over a casual lunch and discuss their practice.

Khan’s Open Table will take place on Friday 29 September at 1pm at the Padiglione Centrale.

He also has a book titled Twelve Clues on sale at the Venice Biennale's bookstores, which the artist describes on Facebook as a “novella of secret societies; shimmering orbs; charismatic silverbacks; murderous sociopaths; smooth operators; love triangles and converted AI weapon systems.”

Additionally, ‘The Artist’s Practice’ project features a series of short videos made by the invited artists about themselves and their way of working.

These videos are also on view at the Central Pavilion in the Arsenale and at Forte Marghera

The Open Table events, the videos of the Artists’ Practices Project and the live performances of Viva Arte Viva are on view on

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