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Wael Shawky, Al Araba Al Madfuna III, (2016), video still (detail), courtesy the artist and Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut/Hamburg

This exhibition brings the extraordinary and timely art of Wael Shawky to the west coast of Canada for the first time. Shawky’s ambitious, multilayered film productions look at the ways in which history and mythologies are recorded, highlighting the fallibility of cultural memory, while offering critical perspectives on our current narratives of uncertainty and change. Shawky brings into dialogue real and imagined histories of the Arab world in provocative retellings that pose timely questions about truth and fabulation.

The last part of a trilogy of films, Al Araba Al Madfuna III was shot in the temples of the Pharaoh Seti and Osirion in the archaeological city of Abydos in Upper Egypt, nowadays the village of Al Araba Al Madfuna. This work is inspired by Egyptian writer Mohamed Mostagab’s short story “Sunflower”, and by the artist’s travels in the region, where he observed local people digging tunnels underground in search of ancient treasures. In Shawky’s theatrical restaging, he employs amateur child actors and film shot in negative to emphasize the many contingencies of historical understanding.

About The Polygon Gallery

The Polygon Gallery is considered one of Canada’s most internationally acclaimed public art galleries. With a mandate to exhibit and disseminate photography and media art, The Polygon Gallery’s new purpose-built home, which opened its doors on November 18, 2017, is a landmark building situated on North Vancouver’s waterfront. Admission is always by donation.

Wael Shawky: Al Araba Al Madfuna is on view at The Polygon Gallery (101 Carrie Cates Court, North Vancouver, BC V7M 3J4) until January 12, 2020.

For more information about this exhibition, the artist, and events associated, please visit