Mohamed A. Gawad: Betalpha (Balbalah)

Mohamed A. Gawad, betalpha (Balbalah) (2018) Video still_1
Mohamed A. GawadBetalpha (Balbalah), 2018, Single-channel video with sound, 5:31 mins. Selected by the MMAG Foundation.

18 August – 20 September 2020

Bal-balah, بلَبلة (noun)

  • Befuddlement; Clutter; Discomposure.
  • A language deconstruction exercise, where sentences of different linguistic origins morph through different mother tongues/ears.
  • A hypothetical situation of a post-historic moment of loss of language: “At a time before time, a Big Bang in Babel sat the uni-logos into a perpetual process of language breeding. At one point, that expansion expires. What follows is a recoil; where dialect-ic-s coalesce, and separates overlap.”


Mohamed A. Gawad (b. 1983, Egypt) envisions a dystopian linguistic future where global communication has developed into an indistinguishable babble of sounds. Repeating a number of curious words, juxtaposed with scenes and sounds from experimental films and audio works such as Stan Brakhage, Alejandro Jodorowsky as well as Buster Keaton, Betalpha (Balbalah) explores how linguistic failure may, like art, be an opportunity to move beyond words to create new meaning.

Mohamed A. Gawad is a filmmaker and an editor based in Cairo. He holds an MFA in scriptwriting and editing from RSICA. His works were screened in several festivals and spaces including Berlinale, Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, Shnit Film Festival, Contemporary Image Collective – Cairo, and Les Instants Vidéo Numériques et poétiques. He is also a co-founder of Cimatheque – Alternative Film Center.

The Mohammad and Mahera Abu Ghazaleh Foundation brings together artists, curators and researchers from the region and elsewhere, hosting exhibitions, workshops, studios and residencies and a library. The foundation is also developing several learning initiatives in preparation for its art school.

The Artists Film International 2020 programme responds to the theme of language. Local sounds, rituals and political realities feature, from the rhythms and images of a Bahamian Junkanoo to the contested ancestral lands on the desert border between Mexico and the USA.