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This Egyptian Artist Merges Bedouin History and Surrealism

The installation was a part of the Desert X event.

Staff Writer

This Egyptian Artist Merges Bedouin History and Surrealism

Egyptian artist Wael Shawky’s newest art piece uses the mountainous landscape of the desert as a backdrop for his video work, which got featured at the Desert X event. The piece - titled 'Dictums: Manqia II' - uses inverted images in negative colours to project a herd of black prize camels, aka majahims, across the desert’s sand dunes, creating a surreal impression that the camels are walking across the mountains and towards the sky. 

Majahim camels originate from Saudi Arabia, where the Desert X event is held. The video work’s use of negative colour inversion transforms the camel’s bodies into ghost-like figures— symbolizing the prized animals' return to their homes. The colour inversion also highlights themes of memory, history and the nomadic lifestyle which speaks to the larger topic of Bedouin history, a subject Shawky previously visited in his Telematch and Dictums series. 

In partnership with the video projection, Shawky also created a mud house, and a tent which sits at the top of the house’s roof. The three pieces merge together to create a surrealist landscape. What do you think of Shawky’s work? Let us know in the comments below.