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Basim Magdy

My Father Looks For An Honest City

.artSümer, Istanbul

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Basim Magdy
My Father Looks For An Honest City
5 min 28 s
Format & Technical

Single channel, Super 8 film transferred to HD video, colour, sound
Edition of 5 + 1 AP

"My Father Looks for an Honest City" (2010) features Magdy's father walking around an abandoned construction site with a flashlight in hand, as a re-enactment of the Greek philosopher Diogenes of Sinope's 'philosophical stunt'. Set against the sounds of a thunderstorm, the protagonist walks amidst a rubble of dreams – unfinished glass buildings, strange architectural and organic structures, stray dogs, fake palm trees – evoking a sense of slow, measured search for evidence in the wake of an apocalypse.

Shot in an arid landscape of extremes on the outskirts of Cairo, My Father Looks For An Honest City is a film about cynicism and a persistent search for a seemingly essential unknown. In a re-enactment of Diogenes of Sinope’s philosophical statement of carrying a lamp in daytime, Magdy filmed his own father while walking through what seems like a no man’s land where human existence seems seldom, other players like petrified wood, doves, fake palm trees, stray dogs, abandoned glass buildings and a flashlight evolve as protagonists. Diogenes, a contemporary of Plato, was one of the founders of the Philosophy of Cynicism. Although considered by many as one of the greatest Greek philosophers, none of his writings were found. Only his philosophical stunt of carrying a lamp in daylight remains as evidence to his beliefs. When asked why he did that, he explained that “he was looking for an honest man”.

Shooting on film, Magdy expounds the aesthetic possibilities of the medium by treating the film itself with a variety of household fluids, which dissolve the images in layers of color and add new details through stains and scratches, pushing the visual quality of the material beyond its actual source and into the unreal, the ski-fi, the imagined.


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