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Wael Shawky returned to Beirut to build a wall.The show takes its name from the artist's 2015 feature-length film, the third in a trilogy of works chronicling the history of the Crusades.The project's narrative is drawn almost exclusively from histories and other narrative accounts composed around the time of the events by Arab-Muslim authors. Its aesthetic conceit is the use of marionettes to enact this historic encounter between Christendom and Islam. Though the centerpiece of the show is Shawky's film projects, there is also a pair of installations featuring glass marionettes the artist employed as actors.As in "Contemporary Myths II," Shawky's 2011 solo show at Sfeir-Semler, the films are complemented by series of fantastical sketches on paper. Here Shawky crafted his own ceramic marionettes – some modelled on human forms, others resembling anthropomorphized animals – and set them against a collage-style set design of landscapes inspired by Persian miniatures.The last two installments of the "Cabaret Crusades" cycle are more highly aestheticized than "The Horror Show File" – both because of the marionette and set design and the music and song the artist has sprinkled through both works.
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