Wael Shawky.
I Am Hymns of the New Temples
انا تراتيل المعابد الجديدة

International preview of the new film
I Am Hymns of the New Temples
أنا تراتیل المعابد الجدیدة
by Wael Shawky

Small Theatre “Odeion”
Archaological Park of Pompeii

Invite only preview
Friday 12th May 2023
from 7.30pm
artist conversation and film screening

Public screenings
Saturday 13th – Sunday 14th May 2023
9pm (entrance from Piazza Esedra from 8.15pm)
5 euro ticket purchasable exclusively on: www.ticketone.it


On 12 May 2023, from 8.00 pm, the Small Theatre “Odeion” – one of the theaters of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii – will host the international preview of the new film work by the Egyptian artist Wael Shawky (Alexandria, Egypt, 1971) I Am Hymns of the New Templesأنا تراتیل المعابد الجدیدة. The screening will be introduced by a conversation between the artist, Andrea Viliani, curator of the project, and Carolyn Christov Bakargiev – Director of the Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art in Rivoli-Turin – introduced by Gabriel Zuchtriegel, Director of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii.

The production of this work – winner of the public notice PAC – Piano per l’Arte Contemporanea 2020, promoted by the Directorate-General for Contemporary Creativity – is the result of the collaboration between the Ministry of Culture and the Archaeological Park of Pompeii in the context of the programme Pompeii Commitment. Archaeological Matters co-founded by Massimo Osanna and Andrea Viliani.

I Am Hymns of the New Temples represents the first artwork produced in the context of this programme, which is dedicated to the formation of a contemporary art collection for the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, the first archaeological site in the world to have a long-term contemporary art programme and a collection aimed at enhancing Pompeii as a contemporary framework able to initiate new lines of artistic enquiry on the themes of cultural heritage, in today’s sense of this word. 

A narrator of processes of knowledge and expression, half way between the documentable and the imaginable, Wael Shawky explores the ways in which stories have been written and told and analyses how these have also shaped historical reality. In his works – which mix film, drawing, painting, sculpture, installation, performance and theatrical direction, and which are always the result of research into historical and literary sources – Shawky places us in a position of awareness of the ancient and contemporary narrative mechanisms used to interpret and transmit historical, social and cultural facts and, crossing time and space, evokes a both factual and imaginary dimension of history and society, as if they could never be defined once and for all, or only from one point of view.

Filmed in the summer of 2022 among the ruins of ancient Pompeii, struck by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD and therefore the witness of the impermanence as well as the continuous transformation not only of matter but also of stories, Shawky’s new film shows what rises to the surface of the different cultures that make Pompeii an authentic theatre of different yet inevitably connected narrations. Basing his own narration on Greek and Roman mythology, and telling how they overlap with ancient Egyptian cults, Shawky recreates the stratifications of ancient stories, and how these have contributed to shaping the relationships between history and myth. Already a source of wonder for the modern western Grand Tour, and the object of continuous discoveries – still in progress today – since it was rediscovered in 1748, the archaeological findings in Pompeii are a cultural and a natural ecosystem open to metamorphosis and interpretation, a multiverse of both narrative and historical potential, and bear witness to the complex stratification of Mediterranean cultures and natures: ancient Pompeii, a busy trading site, was also home not only to temples linked to Greek and Roman but also Egyptian religions (the Temple of Isis was uncovered, with all its stuccoes, statues, frescoes and ornaments, precisely at the start of the Grand Tour). Capturing the traces of these syncretic and multispecies iconographies, Shawky identified the mobile set of his filmic work moving between Giulia Felice’s Praedia, the Casa del Frutteto, the Odeion, the Necropolis of Porta Nocera and the Basilica, the Temple of Vespasiano (Genius Augusti) and the Temple of Isis.

LaM-Lille Métropole Musée d’art moderne, d’art contemporain, d’art brut is the Partner Institution for the international valorisation of the work. Two other Italian institutions, Fondazione Teatro di San Carlo and Academy of Fine Arts of Naples, have also collaborated in the realisation of the work, with the support of Galleria Lia Rumma, Milan/ Naples.

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