Excavation From the Twentieth Century No. 2 | 1973
Installation of engraved hand-folded aluminium sheet with mummified pigeons
Excavation From the Twentieth Century caused a sensation when first exhibited in 1974. Carrying a profound anti-war message, it won first prize as a sculpture in the International 10th Biennale of Alexandria for the Mediterranean nations. Although presented as a painting which was created as an installation piece incorporating not only unconventional painting materials, but took these materials, such as aluminium and bones to a state where it demanded the incorporation of the viewers imagination. This was achieved by capturing the attention and physical participation of the viewer, particularly for those who became aware of the distorted reflected image of their portrait on the polished surface in the zone where the well-known drawing portraying the proportions of the human body by Leonardo Da Vinci takes place.
Due to its unusual form of expression, the work took everybody by surprise, which made the international panel of judges no only consider it as a sculpture but awarded it the first prize. The Egyptian media was inflamed by the outcome where Al-Ahram (04-05-74), the widest distributed newspaper in the Middle East, stated that “The status of the Egyptian section in the Bienale this year was of a very high calibre, even when in comparison with the foreign sections. However one of the most prominent works and most unusual in our section is what the artist Ahmed Moustafa has exhibited in two metallic works, folded in such a way on natural bones and mixed in association with the proportions of the human body in a well-known drawing by Leonardo Da Vinci.”
Hussain Bikar of Akhbaar al-Youm (03-05-74) wrote “With his creative imagination Ahmed Moustafa enabled sheets of aluminium to speak. By such an eloquent mixture of natural bones and aluminium sheets, formed like volcanic waves violently erupting to swallow its victims by their folds, he managed to communicate an epic-like dimension of an extreme violence supported by a visual language expressed with a philosophical intelligence. The work states the tragedy of present Man, who is stressed under the domination of powers of destruction which threaten to wipe off all phenomena of life on the planet we live on.”