Basim Magdy: Flickers of Utopia

Basim Magdy: Flickers of Utopia

Basim Magdy, FEARDEATHLOVEDEATH (still), 2022.

Basim Magdy: Flickers of Utopia
Screening and discussion

Admission starts at $5

January 30, 2024, 7pm
172 Classon Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11205

Join us at e-flux Screening Room on Tuesday, January 30 at 7pm for a screening of selected works by Basim Magdy, followed by an in-person discussion with the artist.

Basim Magdy’s films are characterized by a unique blend of surrealism, absurdism, and existentialism, prompting a re-evaluation of established notions of modernity and progress. They channel inherent contradictions of human ambitions and utopian aspirations in light of (post-)modern and (post-)colonial reality. The experimental use of analog film and creative sound mixing give his films a distinct audiovisual texture, providing a humorous and affective perspective on the complexities of the current state of the human condition.

The screening presents The Dent (2014), 13 Essential Rules for Understanding the World (2011), FEARDEATHLOVEDEATH (2022), Time Laughs Back at You Like a Sunken Ship (2012), and New Acid (2020), films that oscillate between the dreamlike and the real, the hopeful and the despairing.

The Dent (2014, 19 minutes)
Starting with shinny rooftops and ending with the seemingly insignificant demise of the last circus elephant of its kind, The Dent weaves loosely linked events and irrational occurrences to reflect upon collective failure and hopefulness. An anonymous little town struggles for international recognition as it becomes obvious failure is a monster too big to slaughter. Their mayor resorts to hypnosis in the shape of a circus. An ambiguous dream that defies interpretation leaves the circus owner baffled. He wakes up to put his clowns and their wives to work. The consequences of this series of events hit the elephant where it hurts. Fate becomes its enemy.

13 Essential Rules for Understanding the World (2011, 5 minutes)
Tulips with faces dish out harsh truths and put us in our place on this planet. Darkly humorous with an overtone of cynicism, the work parodies the instructional film format and subverts it by informing us that inaction may be the most effective way of being.

FEARDEATHLOVEDEATH (2022, 17 minutes)
A hallucinatory journey that reminisces on the absurdity of death without trying to understand it. A new one-word language is invented to describe the contents of the bedroom of a recently deceased man. A city of caves where a civilization once flourished triggers memories of pockets overflowing with worried smiles. An alligator mysteriously appears in the clouds while ARPANET is remembered as the predecessor of the internet.  Death appears in the distance, galloping between the stars. Against all odds, it appears to be wearing an alligator tail.

Time Laughs Back at You Like a Sunken Ship (2012, 9 minutes)
The film is about our understanding of time and how we construct our memories, and considers how these subtly unfold and fade into each other. This quiet paean exists without a narrative and is accompanied by a delicately composed soundtrack by Magdy.

New Acid (2019, 14 minutes)
Several animals chat via text messages. Between their mundane exchanges of words void of life, conflict and rivalry emerge. Their mirrored physical appearance hints to entrapment inside a reality-TV show, one where uncertainty and doubt prevail. Social media-induced insecurities and escapism become evidence that at least some of them are not bots. They question selfishness, self-love, and self-destruction as the “ugly ones” arrive wearing their “cheesy sunglasses.” Is tradition an alter ego of racism? What about nostalgia and nationalism? Have they become what they always despised? Human? An escape attempt by a group of censored ring-tailed lemurs steals the show. A giraffe finally understands why this has been hell all along.

For more information, contact

– Two flights of stairs lead up to the building’s front entrance at 172 Classon Avenue.
– For elevator access, please RSVP to The building has a freight elevator which leads into the e-flux office space. Entrance to the elevator is nearest to 180 Classon Ave (a garage door). We have a ramp for the steps within the space.           
– e-flux has an ADA-compliant bathroom. There are no steps between the Screening Room and this bathroom.

Film, Utopia
Surrealism, Humor & Comedy, Video Art, Modernity, Animals, Death, Time

Basim Magdy is a multi-disciplinary artist whose practice encompasses drawing, sculpture, video, and installation. His work has been exhibited and screened internationally in solo exhibitions in institutions such as FRAC Bretagne, Rennes; KM21 Museum for contemporary Art, the Hague; Fundación Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona; Röda Sten Konsthall, Gothenburg; M HKA, Antwerp; MAAT – Museu de Arte, Arquitetura e Tecnologia, Lisbon; La Kunsthalle, Centre d’Art Contemporain, Mulhouse; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; MAXXI, Rome; Jeu de Paume, Paris; CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux, Bordeaux; Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, Berlin; and Arnolfini, Bristol; and in group exhibitions at MoMA, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Castello di Rivoli, Torino; and Tate Modern, London. It has also been shown in the Taipei Biennial, the Henie Onstad Triennial for Photography and New Media, Oslo; Istanbul Biennial, Sharjah Biennial, New Museum Triennial, New York; Athens Biennial, SeMA Media City Seoul Biennial, Locarno Film Festival, New York Film Festival, and International Film Festival Rotterdam, among others.

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