Egyptian artist Moataz Nasr explores traditions and new globalism, questioning geopolitical and social development in Africa. The artistic practice for Nasr is a tool and a language that embraces art, sociology, Sufism and history, in order to encourage dialogue across geographical boundaries. The most recent group shows include “The See Is My Land”, curated by Francesco Bonomi and Emanuela Mazzonis (MAXXI, Rome, 2013); "Arab Contemporary Architecture, Culture and Identity" (Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, 2014); “Metropolis. Afriques Capitales”, curated by Simon Njami (La Villette, Paris, 2017); “Senses of Time: Video and Film-based Arts of Africa” (LACMA and The Smithsonian National Museum of African Arts, Washington, 2017); Yinchuan Biennale, curated by Marco Scotini (Yinchuan, 2018), International Contemporary Art Exhibition, curated by Mazdak Faiznia (Yerevan, 2018). In 2018, Nasr has been invited to take part in "Abu Dhabi Art 2018 Beyond" and create a site-specific work in the historic sites in Al Ain. In 2019 he was invited to take part in the Havana Biennal and has participated in Fiac Hors Les Murs with the installation of the work Sun Boat at Les Tuileries. Among the most recent solo shows, in 2019 "The Liminal Space", in Castel del Monte, Andria, curated by Achille Bonito Oliva and "Paradise Lost" in Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, curated by Simon Njami. In 2017, he was selected to represent Egypt during the 57th Venice Biennale. The work presented in the Egyptian Pavilion was an immersive installation showing the original film "The Mountain".
Fear may be the least acknowledged of our primal instincts. Yet, fear, and that of the unknown most of all, plays a large role in shaping the world we live in today. It influences our relationships, our opinions and ultimately our actions, keeping us from moving forward and living our lives to their fullest. In a world that bombards us with information at every turn, we should feel at our most secure. We should feel in control. And yet, we do not. Our anxieties multiply, as our understanding increases. We become paranoid and turn inward, paralyzed at the thought of the countless dangers that threaten our existence.
In The Mountain, Egypt's entry at the 57th Venice Biennale, Moataz Nasr invites us to explore this pervasive human condition through the story of a small village in Egypt. The inhabitants of this village do not question their reality; life simply passes them by, unlived, as they hide every night, in their self-imposed twilight world.
Nasr takes the generous space of the Egypt Pavilion as his medium, using a variety of video, audio and lighting installations to narrate a humankind that everywhere in the world is surrending to a nameless fear. We follow the story of a young girl who escapes the village and its demons but ultimately returns to face the primal fear that continues to shadow her life. The daunting mountain casts an imposing shadow over the landscape and plays a pivotal role in the story, representing the ultimate unconquerable threat.
As the story unfolds, Nasr guides us through our inability to accept the unknown in an era of seemingly boundless knowledge. The villagers reflect our failure to break free from the myths we create to protect ourselves. Their journey is our journey, from passive acceptance of a restricted life to an acknowledgment of our weaknesses and a belief in our ability to overcome them.