Neither ethnographer nor alien, Shadi Habib Allah has a cognizance and compassion for his subjects that allows him to embed himself in the motifs of his time-based works. He preserves the mystery and nuance of his subjects through durational proximity. Also, his willingness to break the rules of documentary practice—weaving scripts, set production, and effects into candid situations with non-actors in their real-life settings—further differentiates Habib Allah from the ethnographic observer.
For a year and a half, Shadi Habib Allah traveled and camped out with Bedouins who carried rocket launchers and assault rifles in the back of their Toyota pickup truck with a broken windshield. This expedition resulted in the video Daga’a (2015). There is a painterly dimension to the video work. Massive desert shots speak about color and light, and often allow the protagonists to dissolve like chameleons into the surroundings. Some of the atmospheric scenes of figures in the landscape show vast, brutal, and sublime panoramas that call to mind Caspar David Friedrich canvases. Conjunctively, the method of editing also allows aesthetic conceits to overpower the linear narrative.