Alexandria : Past Futures
From Wednesday 8 February 2023 to Monday 8 May 2023
The exhibition "Alexandria: Past Futures" revisits the history and present of the Egyptian city, far from the myths and stereotypes traditionally associated with it. Combining two approaches – archaeological research and contemporary art – it invites us to consider Alexandria from a hitherto unseen angle.
The exhibition presents artefacts covering a period of eight centuries, from the foundation of the city by Alexander the Great (331 BCE) to the advent of Christianity (381 AD). It also includes forays into the vestiges of Byzantine, Arab-Islamic and modern times.
Through this selection of some 200 works and objects from the most important European museum collections, the exhibition shines a light on Alexandria's heritage and legacy by examining on the one hand its urban, political and religious organisation, and on the other the daily life of its inhabitants, as well as the scientific and philosophical influence of this civilizational high point of the ancient world.
The exhibition also considers contemporary Alexandria, a city marked by constant ecological, social and political erosion, determined by its colonial past and the tumult of globalisation. Along the exhibition visit route, sixteen contemporary artists broaden our view with works that explore the city of today, its complexity and the paradox of its representations, which are marked by a constant back and forth between historical, present and imaginary times. In this way, a selection of hitherto unseen contemporary artworks (paintings, photographs, sculptures, audiovisual installations) can be discovered, including three specially designed for the exhibition by the artists Wael Shawky, Jasmina Metwaly and Mona Marzouk.
- Context & collaboration
The exhibition "Alexandria: Past Futures" is part of the EU Creative Europe funded project "Alexandria: (Re)activating shared urban imaginaries", implemented by the following partners: Mucem (FR), University of Leiden (NL), Kunsthal Aarhus (DK), Undo Point Contemporary Arts (CY), Domain and Royal Museum of Mariemont (BE), Bozar – Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (BE), Ariona Hellas AE (GR), and Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto (IT), with the support of associated partners Cluster (Egypt), French Institute of Alexandria (Egypt), and Theatrum Mundi (UK).
In parallel to the exhibition, two artist residency programmes, as well as a series of meetings and conferences in the cities of the different partners involved, explore the relationships to heritage, art and urbanism within the Euro-Mediterranean metropolises of Alexandria, Athens, Marseille, Brussels, and Nicosia.
More information at: www.alexandria-urban-imaginaries.eu
Arnaud Quertinmont, custodian of Egyptian and Near Eastern antiquities at the Royal Museum of Mariemont
Nicolas Amoroso, custodian of Greek and Roman antiquities at the Royal Museum of Mariemont
Edwin Nasr, writer, freelance curator and researcher
Sarah Rifky, curatorial advisor, curator at the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University and PhD student
Referent Mucem curator: Enguerrand Lascols
Scenography: Asli Çiçek, assisted by Maxime Descheemaecker
Exhibition organised by the Royal Museum of Mariemont, Bozar (30 Sept. 2022 - 8 Jan. 2023) - Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, and the Mucem - Museum of Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean, Marseille.
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