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Petro Beads

Petro Beads

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Moataz Nasr

Moataz Nasr is a well-known Egyptian artist who has been creating work in various mediums, including video, textile, sculpture, and installations, since 1995 and exhibiting internationally since 1999. Through his practice, he explores tradition and the new globalism, questioning geopolitical and social development. Nasr writes of his work: “Each piece contains different lines of my life: there is a political line, a social line, the spiritual one, and sometimes they go parallel and sometimes they intersect. But these lines exist in everything I’ve done, though I never know which line will become the most explicit until after I’ve finished and I look back.” Petro Beads is fashioned out of metal canisters used to hold gas (petrol), arranged and suspended from the gallery ceiling to resemble prayer beads. The artist has stated, “Prayer beads are used by many different religious people, from Sufis to even Buddhists… I replaced the beads with gasoline canisters, just to say in simple words that gasoline money and petrol money have been involved in religion for a long time, and it has made it very dangerous.” The artist highlights the way that the oil industry has corrupted religion, and with it, politics. While Nasr is often pegged as either an African artist or a Middle Eastern artists, depending on the circumstances of a particular exhibition, the issue that this work addresses spans both geographic regions. Nigeria, for example, is in the top fifteen oil producing nations in the world, shortly behind the UAE and Kuwait and Egypt is the fourth largest oil producing country in Africa.
Moataz Nasr
(Egyptian, b. 1961)
Petro Beads
Repurposed metal gas containers
approx. 126 x 55 x 30 in. overall
Sara Guyer and Scott Straus Contemporary African Art Initiative made possible by the Straus Family Foundation
Accession No.


2020, sold by Galleria Continua (San Gimignano, Italy) to the Chazen Museum of Art

  • Chazen Museum of Art. "Insistent Presence: Contemporary African Art from the Chazen Collection." Madison, WI: Regents to the University of Wisconsin System and New York: Thames & Hudson, 2023. pp. 69, 90-91, cat. no. 42

  • Insistent Presence: Contemporary African Art from the Chazen Collection: Chazen Museum of Art, 9/5/2023–12/23/2023
  • Moataz Nasr: Paradise Lost: Galleria Continua, 9/28/2019–1/6/2020

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