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Wael Shawky, Al Araba Al Madfuna III, 2016, HD video, color, sound, 27 minutes 2 seconds. From the trilogy “Al Araba Al Madfuna,” 2012–16.

Wael Shawky

Sfeir-Semler Gallery | Hamburg

Wael Shawky, Al Araba Al Madfuna III, 2016, HD video, color, sound, 27 minutes 2 seconds. From the trilogy “Al Araba Al Madfuna,” 2012–16.

The final installment of Wael Shawky’s video trilogy “Al Araba Al Madfuna,” 2012–16, proposes a kind of resolution to the first two parts. In Hamburg, the gravity of its purpose was evident the moment the visitor entered the gallery: The room was bathed in a deep-blue shimmering metallic deep-blue light, anticipating the mystical palette of a video projected floor to ceiling. Blue, silvery, and washed-out magenta hues predominate in the film, which is set in and around the temple of Pharaoh Seti I in Upper Egypt, thanks to a peculiar technique the artist has employed, of subjecting the digital footage to a pixel-by-pixel inversion, effectively producing a color negative. The principle of inversion runs through the film on the level of motifs as well: The grown-up characters are played by children with fake beards; adult voices are added in postproduction, with the result that only

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