‘No American Talent 3 The Common Deceit of Reality: Basim Magdy’
Basim Magdy's "The Common Deceit of Reality" questions the scientific and historical postulates we derive from partial evidence, but parts of the installation undercut the whole
Reviewed by Salvador Castillo, Fri., May 25, 2007
"No American Talent 3 The Common Deceit of Reality: Basim Magdy" Okay Mountain, through May 26
An older installation by Basim Magdy, In the Grave of Intergalactic Utopia, sits outside Okay Mountain in the gallery yard. An astronaut suit sits in a hutch lined with straw bedding, food bowls and water feeders lay close by, and hay bales provide seating around the cage. The poor creature barely has any room for itself, and its only respite is a TV broadcasting a video of grazing sheep. It's nowhere near as entertaining as watching a male lion roar to the crowds at the zoo. It does, however, conjure the same depressing question of accommodation.
Inside, the stifling air and the very present odor of the wood-chip floor smother your movements. It's like trying to swim through a pool of Jell-O or the slow motion of a scary dream. The incongruent narratives of the text on the wall and the details of the camper create an opportunity for conspiracy theories to cultivate in Mud Pools and How We Got Ourselves to Look for Big Foot Heaven. Somewhere, a PR person must have edited the stories, because there's no way a scientist could have mistakenly shot a colleague while he was sitting inside their camper when they were all supposedly hiking.
Picking up a free copy of Art Papers does not improve the reaction toward the small drawings. Spanning three publications, the published images and the images on the wall exude the technical proficiency of self-aware, faux-naive, crappy drawings. The funky colors and the use of familiar Halloween costumes do not posit the same pseudoscience found with the installations.
In fact, the drawings undercut the three-dimensional work the same way that the whole show questions our understanding of "fact" and its inverse, "myth." Like the Critics' Table-nominated Beast-Footed Feathered Serpents, Magdy's "The Common Deceit of Reality" questions the scientific and historical postulates we extrapolate from partial evidence. Curiously, it isn't ancient lizards, woodland spirits, or extraterrestrial visitors that are invoked. Instead, the ego of our galactic neighbors, the Aurorans, and their pompous denial of Earth as the cradle of civilization as told in Asimov's The Robots of Dawn is recollected as another prime example of assuming authority figures always present accurate information.