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Wael Shawky

Photos by Lance Gerber

Photos by Lance Gerber


Dictums: Manqia II

The mountainous landscape in AlUla forms a backdrop for Shawky’s video work that is derived from Dictums: Manqia I – the film is inverted, rendered in negative and re-oriented in portrait mode. In the film, a herd of prize black camels or majahims glides across desert sand dunes towards an unknown destination. These prized majahims originate from Saudi Arabia and their procession across the mountain range (and towards the sky) creates a surreal landscape. With the film in negative, the majahims transform into bodies of light and appear ghost-like; their spirits returning to their original home.

The artist produced the film in negative to further highlight themes of memory, history, and nomadism. The idea of inversion is instrumental in much of Shawky’s work and is employed to strengthen his visual language. The notion of nomadism and the history of the Bedouin are also important to Shawky and he has previously worked with Bedouin tribespeople for his Telematch and Dictums series. Shawky’s mud house is also inverted with a Bedouin-style tent on top of its roof rather than the ground. Together, the house, tent, and film projection create a distinctive and surreal landscape.