The Bonnefanten pop-up at festival MAAS! Walk in and see the video artwork Of Men and Gods and Mud (2022) by Ali Cherri. Cherri won the prize for most promising young artist at last year's Venice Biennale with it.


The Bonnefanten Pop-up Museum is free to visit for everyone at Vrijthof Maastricht :

  • Saturday, September 9
    12.00 - 6.00 PM

  • Sunday, September 10
    12.00 - 05.00 PM
Melanie Bonajo, Night Soil #2 - Economy of Love, 2014-2016, mixed media. Collectie Bonnefanten. ©Bonnefanten

Of Men and Gods and Mud

The pop-up museum features the unique video artwork Of Men and Gods and Mud (2022) by artist Ali Cherri (b. 1976, Beirut, Lebanon - Paris).

On three screens, Men and Gods and Mud shows the story of a seasonal worker baking bricks in the early '00s to construct the Merowe Dam on the Nile River in northern Sudan. One of Africa's largest dams, it provides energy to thousands of people. But the dam's construction at the beginning of this century forced more than 50,000 people to leave their homes and villages as they were flooded. The fertile, historically important land of the Nile Delta, which contained many orchards with date palms, also disappeared underwater. Only the new lake and the desert remained. The dam thus provided not only electricity but also a social and ecological disaster for the region.

Rory Pilgrim, Sacred Repository nr.1: Violently Speaking, 2014, film. Collectie Bonnefanten. ©Bonnefanten

Cherri depicts this history in his work. By day, the seasonal worker makes bricks for a pittance, far away from his family and under miserable conditions. At night, he secretly creates a huge figure out of mud and garbage, which comes to life. For Cherri, this monster symbolizes all the devastation caused by the dam. Cherri thus connects contemporary events to famous stories and legends about the Nile, such as ancient Egyptian myths about the river crossing its banks, the Old Testament creation story, the Jewish legend of the clay figure Golem and the story of Noah's Ark.

The video work will be on grand display at Bonnefanten next year, but visitors to festival MAAS! can enjoy it now!

Russian Box
Outside the museum pavilion is a special building. It was conceived by world-famous Italian architect Aldo Rossi, who also designed the Bonnefanten museum building in Maastricht. The Russian Box (1989) resembles the Russian Matryoshka dolls, which can be pushed together from large to small. The Russian Box was donated to the Bonnefanten in 2020 and is now on display for the first time!

Images: Ali Cherri, Of Men and Gods and Mud, 2022, three-channel video installation, duration: 20 min. Courtesy the artist.


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