Wael Shawky is known for dynamic, multimedia work based in extensive research and investigatory projects. Often tackling contradictions of social norms and cultural issues, his work pushes the boundaries of the absurd, incorporating surreal, spiritual, sometimes fantastical elements and motifs. Retelling the crusades with 200-year old marionettes in Cabaret Crusades (2010), organizing a heavy metal concert in rural Egypt, and using child actors to describe ancient poetic myths—Shawky continually examines and re-contextualizes the pillars of historical and religious narrative.
Shawky’s solo exhibitions include MATHAF, Doha, MoMA P.S.1, New York, K20 Düsseldorf, Serpentine Galleries, London, KW Contemporary Art Institute, Berlin, Nottingham Contemporary, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Delfina Foundation, London and Cittadellarte—Fondazione Pistoletto, Biella. He has participated in the 2013 11th Sharjah Biennial, Documenta 13, Kassel, the 9th Gwangju Biennial, 2008 SITE Santa Fe Biennial, 2005 Istanbul Biennial and the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003. Recent awards include the inaugural Mario Merz Prize (2015), the Abraaj Capital Art Prize (2012), the Schering Foundation Art Award (2011), as well as The International Commissioning Grant and an award from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, in 2005. In 2010 Shawky founded the educational space MASS Alexandria.