Echoes of Tahrir Square will be loud in the Egyptian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2011. For its representative to the international art exhibition Egypt will honor Ahmed Basiony (1978 – 2011), a prominent young multimedia artist and musician who was shot dead by security forces on January 28, the third day of the protests that would become the Egyptian Revolution.
The exhibition will juxtapose a showing of one of Basiony’s last major works, 30 Days of Running in the Space, with raw footage from the streets of Cairo taken by the artist during the last three days of his life, beginning with the fateful protests of January 25.
In his roughly ten years of artistic practice Basiony moved from an early interest in painting to developing a theory and practice of visual and sound-based digital art, and interactive performance art. He was respected both as an experimentalist and as a teacher, working to introduce new media technologies and open source applications to a new generation of young Egyptian artists.
Basiony was a musician as well as an artist, and participated in digital music and sound art festivals. His music explored various avenues of digital minimalism, sometimes in juxtaposition to Egyptian folk music traditions.
30 Days of Running in the Space was first presented at the Why Not exhibition in Cairo in 2010. Basiony performed daily for 30 days in a room enclosed in transparent plastic outside the Cairo Opera House and Palace of Arts. The artist jogged around the room wearing a plastic suit fitted with digital sensors that gathered and wirelessly transmitted data on his movements and physiological parameters. This information was in turn processed and projected on a large screen as an ever-changing visual and aesthetic reflection of the artist’s physical state.
Images from the Cairo exhibition will occupy five screens in the Egyptian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2011. Other screens will show the protest footage, which Basiony downloaded onto his laptop each evening from January 25-27.