The Egyptian Pavilion at the time of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Interview with Khaled Zaki, artist and curator of the project

The Egyptian Pavilion seems to bring to every Biennale a deeper sign of the political ferment that distinguishes its closer story, the traces of this long, bloody and controversial Arab spring in search of a new road to democracy.
Up to the present edition, the one which witnessed at the time of the artist's nomination, the Muslim Brotherhood party at power. The pavillon is focused on the artist's choices in terms of style, in how to use intense symbolic icons from ancient Egyptian culture, not as a step back but instead as a sign of resistance against the conservative wave brought by the Muslim Brotherhood party, which would like to erase centuries of a millenary culture, almost reiterating Egypt's secular greatness, which is ineffaceable even by totalitarian politics such as that of the Muslim Brotherhood party. 

For the 55th Venice Biennale, at the Egyptian Pavilion located at Giardini, is presented The Treasure of Knowledge with which the Egyptian artists Khaled Zaki and Mohammed Banawy respond to the theme of the Palace with The Treasure of Knowledge, an installation composed of several bronze sculptures , steel and granite by Zaki and two large mosaics by Banawy made of clay and glass paste.
Through the curatorial project, with The Treasures of Knowldge, Khaled Zaki analyzes the idea of knowledge as a synthesis between nature's infinite ancestral wisdom and a sign of man who mutates it, changes it, alters it between wordly and unworldly life, between birth and rebirth, readable in what the artist considers The treasures of knowledge divided in two main cycles of life and death: the knowlegde of life and afterwards death/rebirth. 

What takes size and light in the gloom of the pavilion is Egypt's great and legendary past, that seems to resurface in Zaki's granite, steel and bronze sculptures, evoking the images of the Pharaonic past, the pyramids, the ancient religious cults, the graveyards, which are suspended in this atmosphere of emptiness and darkness as monumental, powerful and impressive appearances; strongly linked to essential cultural influences from Egyptian culture which characterize it worldwide. It also emerges in the mosaics and in the choice of clay material, which the artist considers "one of the fundamental elements of creation, the mud (clay) is the secret of life and eternity. . . the mud, not only created humanity, but everything else. . . when I create mosaic mud units, I can feel the warmth, it's like I become a part of this great universe, these units are the great Egyptian heritage "as he says on the occasion of an exhibition at the Man. Banawy's "topographic" clay and glass pastes mosaics became a map that tells, through the matter which symbolizes Egyptian DNA, about unharvested lands, urban conglomerates, royal cities of wealth and poverty, the new reality of a country that carries a long history in a path which links past and present together. 

To read even more clearly about this story of art and politics, revolution and artistic research, I put my questions to Khaled Zaki, editor of the Treasueres of Knowledge project and artist at the exhibition, and in his answers I found the clarity and depth of his experience . Almost recalling the role of the intellectual who fights with the strength of his ideas and of his images.

Maria Giovanna Tumino: What did it mean to you as an artist, and for your career, be called to participate at the Venice Biennale, and represent his country?
Khaled Zaki: Of course participating at the Venice Biennale has been a very important step for my career because it gave me the chance to show my art and my ideas to a wider audience. I am honored to represent Egypt, my country, especially at this sensitive time both politically and socially.

M.G. T .: In this historical moment, of particular instability and change in Egypt, what is happening in the art world? Were there significant changes in your opinion?
KZ: I experienced very difficult moments while I was making the works of art in preparation for Biennale. Former religious regime (fascist) (3) was attacking everything that we loved and where we believed: the ancient Egyptian history, art in general; they closed the ballet school, attacked the Opera house and have considered painting and sculpture as unethical activities. All  they have attacked became part, somehow, of my project for the Biennale and was my way of resisting and fighting. Things got so bad that on June 30th we made another revolution and we changed the regime, thank God!

M.G. T .: The choice of your installation Treasure of Knowledge recalls that "mythical" era of the past Egyptian culture that has been represented in Italy since Roman times. The decision appears to be in conflict with Ahmed Basiony and 30 Days of Running in the place.
KZ: As I already explained, I used symbols inspired by my culture, not only from ancient Egypt, as the sarcophagus that for the 'Egyptian Antiquities means the possessor of life, while in most other cultures it is perceived as the symbol of death. I am very interested in the idea of ​​rebirth. There is also the Sufi sculpture, which looks like an idea from the tests to reveal the human and religious deities. I told all this with my sculptures, with my forms and with my materials. Being in the crowd of the revolution in Tahrir Square, seeing the hope drawn on the faces of Egyptian citizens, has built in me a series of tough questions: Do I make art even for those millions of Egyptians from all social categories? Or for the few intellectuals and art critics who will slaughter me if I do not "swim" in the sea and in the global super-contemporary and minimalism? I wonder if I make art for the people or for the desire to be perceived as a contemporary artist, or do I make art for both.

At the end, I did what I felt like doing and I was glad to meet people from all over the world in Venice who admired what I realized. I also understand the view of those who have considered my work of art as "old".
However, I'm not one of those who dresse like famous people to become famous: I'm just trying to be myself and I will always be!

Maria Giovanna Tumino, "Prototype LuxFlux Art", Special Venice Biennale,