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Single-channel video installation, mobile phones, chargers, microcontrollers, 7 min. Arabic.

In order to shield themselves from the Egyptian government’s efforts to track their phone calls, some Bedouins in the Sinai Peninsula have opted to use old 2G phones as these devices are said to be better shielded from surveillance. They have also developed coded dialects that are inaccessible to the rest of the region’s population. Shadi Habib Allah acquired some of their cryptic conversations, managed to translate them, and had them encrypted on mini computers. A group of Palestinian engineers were given these devices and commissioned to set up a DIY 2G phone network. If set up properly, the network autonomously makes calls and provides a translation on a screen.
The engineers trying to access the Bedouin’s technology could well be Egyptian state authorities. Their efforts could easily be directed at decoding subversive exchanges between members of the Bedouins, infamous for moving goods illegally across the borders between Egypt, Palestine, and other areas around. In either case, though, their approach, the zeal of discovery, remains the same. What alters is the meaning afforded by the context – ‘invention’ in the first case, ‘hazard’ in the other.

Shadi Habib Allah, born in Jerusalem, Palestine in 1977, received a BFA from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in 2003 and an MFA from Columbia University in 2010. His practice ranges from film, sculpture, and drawing to installation. His work has been shown at international art institutions, museums, and film festivals. He lives and works between New York and Palestine.

Production Shadi Habib Allah. Production company Shadi Habib Allah (New York, USA). Director Shadi Habib Allah. Cinematography Shadi Habib Allah. Editing Shadi Habib Allah. Sound design Steffen Martin. With Emad Amouri, Saleem, Mohammad Sabaaneh.


2010: The King and The Jester (26 min.). 2015: Dag’aa (19 min.). 2017: 30KG Shine (19 min.). 2018: Did You See Me This Time with Your Own Eyes?

Photo: © Shadi Habib Allah

Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media
  • Logo des Programms NeuStart Kultur