Anachronistic Fantastic (2013)
Installation & Performance
Part of "X-Apartments" project directed by Matthias Lilienthal, Home Works 6, Beirut 2013
What is "stardom" today? Has it moved past the figure of a glamorous stage actor, a unique eccentric character, a war hero, or a flamboyant dictator? In this project, a man's private home was transformed into a shrine dedicated to his image, with hundreds of photos plastered onto the wall of his entrance room, accompanied by badges, plates, pillow cases and other memorabilia. Visitors would enter the room where they would greet him as they would a star, while he recounts to them fantastical stories about his life. The work attempts to explore the transformation of self-image, from 20th century individualism towards new and unknown forms of narcissus digitalis. Read about it here
The Tragedy of Self (2009-2012)
Photo-painting series & video installation
A series of works created around the image of an idealized self, in its most extreme form: godly self-portraits.
The artist poses as an androgynous saint-like figure, with melancholic expressions, fragmented into many parts.By physically embodying the conceptual structure of the work, these portraits are meant to convey an unescapable modern cycle of narcissism, that is equally both tragic and pleasurable at the same time. Watch video here
As a visual object, the beard has been overloaded with religious, political, and social meanings throughout history. Even though it is only a mass of facial hair, when placed in different contexts it can transform itself from being a symbol of masculine virility, mature wisdom, or fear-inducing extremism. In this work, a cast of the artist's face is attached to a two meter-long beard inside a glass vitrine. As a woman, the beard is also a completely foreign, unattainable fantasy.
"Muhawwil" (Transformer) (2014)
4-channel animation installation
Supported by The Arab Fund for Arts & Culture (AFAC)
A four-channel video installation based on Islamic figurative murals from electric power stations in Kuwait. These murals mark a transformation in religious discourse within Gulf societies: where once only calligraphic depictions of this nature were allowed, today’s pop-culture and mass-production of images have forced conservative entities to reconsider this tradition and take up a mutated technique to convey moral advice - wall paintings. This project reconstructs these paintings into animation, so as to highlight the dilemma of representation that exists between the ancient and the modern. Read about it here
Myth Busters (2014)
A series of photographs based on a theory by scholar Dr. Alexandre Kazerouni, who traces the evolution of mega-museum construction in the Arabian Gulf back to the Gulf war in Kuwait in 1990-91. In this project, the museums are superimposed onto the landscape of the war, in an attempt to visualize this thought-provoking thesis.
Read about it here
Eternally Out of Place (2007)
A self-portrait of the artist, dressed as some kind of bearded priest, standing in a Japanese cemetery.
The work describes a feeling of displacement of identity, whether it be cultural, ideological, or personal.
This feeling may even surpass death, as seen on the grave stones of the deceased.
Alien Technology (2014)
Part of "InVisible" public project curated by Amanda Abi Khalil & commissioned by The Arab Fund for Arts & Culture (AFAC)
A gigantic sculpture of an iridescent oil drill alluding to both an underwater world that fed the Gulf’s economy for so many years and simultaneously, the tool that is central to the current economy of oil. The pearl industry is invisible to most - a forgotten history after the economic transformation that came with the discovery of oil in the region. And while the presence of oil is known and all-pervasive, the nature of its extraction is rarely seen. This drill is the basis of the wealth of the region, a central cog in the workings of the economy, finally made visible in this shimmering monument. Read about it here
Video & photo series
Sulaibikhaat is the national cemetery in Kuwait - the only one currently in use - that was built around the early 1960s. On the one side of the cemetery is the Shi'ite graveyard, and on the other is the Sunni one. The difference in the doctrines of the sects are made visually clear in that the Shi'ite side is colorful and decorated and frequently visited, while the Sunni side is empty and desolate, and the gravestones are left unnamed and unmarked.
They two graveyards are segregated only by a road cutting through the middle.
Could this road be seen as the violent separation between the spiritual manifestations of Islam? Is this the border of irreconcilable, intolerable cultural difference? This project attempts to pose these difficult questions by juxtaposing images and video of the two cemeteries along side each other.
Read about it here
COSA NOSTRA (2016)
“Cosa Nostra” literally means “our affair”, but also refers to the infamous “Black Hand” mafia organization - an entity formed by humans but gradually taking on its own agency, shifting from organization to invasive organism. In this arrangement, an alliance of dark Calla lilies, purple Vanda orchids, and magenta carnations invade a giant artificial pearl (which is itself an alien form, created by bacteria entering the mollusk shell). Both the pearl and the flowers shimmer with petroleum glamour, color-coded to reflect the colors of wealth production in the Gulf, and the “seepage” of these anxieties to current affairs. Read about it here
DEEP FLOAT (2017)
Before it became a fuel source, oil was often used for its therapeutic and medicinal properties, known as the ‘miracle liquid’ from around the 6th century BC. It was said to cure many ailments, from feet sores to impotence. This ancient use of oil can still be seen in places like Naftalan in Azerbaijan, where people bathe in it for ten minutes as a spa treatment. This work imagines this therapeutic practice’s resurgence in the future, after oil has become worthless as an energy producer.
5 hanging aluminum panels
These aluminum panels are cut in the shapes of various technical drawings of patented oil drills. To the naked eye their forms can often resemble marine creatures, decorative patterns, or science-fictional tools. Here, they are rendered into hanging ‘illusions’, their shadows and reflections creating a sense of awe and wonder in the viewer. The work imagines that in the future the oil industry and its inner-workings will appear as a cryptic ancient reality, an illusion of past dreams, where shiny aspirations and mirroring fantasies cast their shadows on entire landscapes and peoples.
Father of Pearl (2016)
42 Silkscreen prints
42 almost invisible pearlescent silkscreen prints based on a painting the artist made from the only surviving photograph of her late grandfather. In the first half of the 20th century, he worked as a singer on a pearl diving boat in Kuwait, traveling around the Gulf and to Iran, India, and Africa. When seen from the eyes of today, this pre-oil world of sailing and pearl diving seems to reside in the realm of pure fiction, a detached and invisible world to the people of the region today, despite numerous efforts to revive it. This work describes the artist’s feeling towards this disappearing history, and her absolute inability to grasp or understand it.
Levitating 3D printed sculpture
OR-BIT is a levitating iridescent model of an oil drill that quietly rotates, as if to drill the sky above it. Resembling an architectural model akin to the tower of babel, the work embodies the infinite human desire to strive upwards while accumulating more wealth and power. The riches generated by oil exploration fuelled these toxic aspirations of man to hover above others, in a seemingly unending spiralling motion.
Spectrum 1 & 2 (2016)
Series of 3D printed sculptures
Pearls and oil share the same color scheme on opposite ends of the dichroic color spectrum. The exploitation of these two materials at various points in history has been fundamental to the cultural and economic life of the Arabian Gulf region. Spectrum 1 and 2 follow on from the artist's research into the historical and cultural legacy of the pearl trade, and the massive social and economic shifts brought about by its replacement with a petro- economy.
Based on the heads of oil drills, these alien-like sculptural objects liken these machines to intruders from another planet. Here the substance of oil is presented as an alien intruder that dramatically changed the historical narrative of an entire region, forever altering our bodies and landscapes.
Amorphous Solid Ghost (2017)
Seven Murano glass sculptures
The work is comprised of a series of oil drill heads made of iridescent Murano glass. The title “Amorphous Solid” takes its cue from the scientific name for frozen liquid sand - the actual material that glass is made of. Here, the meaning is conflated with the ever-changing methods of wealth production and energy generation, and the cultural legacy that they both helped found. The work attempts to conjure the premonition that fossil fuels will soon become obsolete as an energy source, and pre-emptively positions oil drilling as an inexplicable human activity from ancient times.
When seen together in an arranged configuration, oil drills can have beautiful and unexpected shapes, far removed from their original function as mere tools and machines. This work exaggerates this aesthetic aspect, so as to create a sense of ambiguity around their destructive nature.
Feeling Dubbing (2017)
Commissioned by the Kunstenfestivaldesarts (Brussels) and Thalia Theater (Hamburg)
“Feeling Dubbing” is a performance based on the vocal performances of Arabic-dubbed Japanese cartoons that the artist watched while growing up in Kuwait. The cartoons eventually led her to move to Japan and live there, but after a few years she came to realize that it wasn’t the cartoons that she loved so much but the Arabic voice performances of the dubbers that animated the various characters. The voice actors were all Lebanese and living in Beirut during a time of turmoil and war in the early 1980s. In the performance, her personal story, the dubbers’ stories, and the dramatized script contained within the cartoons merge together to form an uncanny hybridized monologue. The piece is performed by a life-size puppet of the artist that ‘speaks’ in the manly dubber’s voice, and she appears herself speaking with her own voice beside it.
Watch video here
The Craft (2017)
Commissioned by Gasworks (London) and the Sursock Museum (Beirut)
Housed in the obsolete atmosphere of an American diner, “The Craft” is a film that revolves around childish fictions laced with serious suspicions towards the real world. Using the lens of family history, the film dissects the artist’s own past to reexamine an uncanny relationship taking place in the shadows of her major life events: “Were my parents conspiring with aliens behind my back?” Reality gradually disintegrates like quicksand around this central question, as paranoia and speculation begin to take hold. Futuristic architecture, popular culture, dream readings, junk food, alien abductions, geopolitics, international diplomacy, war and peace; all of these once solid staples of modern life now become tinted with a general sense of distrust, overshadowing everything. Like a ticking time bomb at the center of the nuclear family unit, the suspicion reaches a crescendo when the protagonist suddenly discovers that the American century has finally ended.
Watch video here
Alien Technology II (2017)
Part of Northern Spark Art Festival (Minneapolis) commissioned by Mizna & The Soap Factory
Alien Technology II is Al Qadiri’s second large-scale sculpture in the form of an actual industrial
oil drill bit. The first appeared in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, with an oil-black sheen. Her
giant drill bits resemble forms of bioluminescent marine life, especially with their recast
surfaces, or some futuristic organic machine. They allude both to the underwater world that
fed the Gulf’s economy for so many years, and simultaneously, the tool that is central to the
current economy of oil. The works engage with the pearl industry that is invisible to most—a
forgotten history after the economic transformation that came with the discovery of oil in the
region. And while the presence of oil is now pervasive, the nature of its extraction is rarely
seen. Here, it is all made visible in Al Qadiri’s shimmering public monument.
The End (2017)
Levitating sculpture, sound
Commissioned by Gasworks (London) and the Sursock Museum (Beirut)
The hamburger - the most powerful food object in the industrialized world, is displayed here as a floating sculpture. It embodies the image of an Ukiyo-e - a reflection of the quotidian floating world - in order to highlight the precariousness of power, and its ability to fall from grace within seconds. Alongside it, an excerpt from a book about the modernization of Kuwait in the 1960s is read as a sound piece. The 1960s represent the high summer of American cultural expansion, the allure of which seems to have faded to the point of alienness.
Read about it here