Thirty-two-year-old multimedia artist Ahmed Basiony was one of the earliest martyrs of the 2011 Egyptian uprisings. Shortly after his death his work was selected for the Egyptian pavilion at the fifty-fourth Venice Biennale. This article questions the choice of Basiony as a representative on a national pavilion. It also examines some of the curatorial choices made in the presentation of Basiony’s work. It argues that the emphasis on the artist’s martyrdom throughout the exhibition restricts our reading of his work to the tragic events leading to his untimely death. This article also suggests that in the 2011 Egyptian pavilion exhibition we can see the earliest manifestations of the now well-established counterrevolution, as the Ministry of Culture—a representative of “deep” state—seeks to assert itself as the continued sponsor of cultural production, as well as the guardian of martyrs and their memorialization.

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