As part of the latest edition of the AlUla Artist Residency, co-founded by RCU (Royal Commision for AlUla) and Afalula (French Agency for AlUla Development), Monira Al Qadiri has spent two weeks in AlUla developing her research.
Monira Al Qadiri is a Kuwaiti visual artist born in Senegal and educated in Japan. Al Qadiri has spent the last decade creating sculptures, installations, videos and performances that assume a range of strategies to explain the Persian Gulf region’s stunning urban and economic development over the last decades. Al Qadiri’s understanding of The Middle East is allowing her to express AlUla in an informed fair and unique way. Her interpretation of the Gulf’s so-called “petro-culture” is manifested through speculative scenarios that take inspiration from science fiction, Arab soap operas, Gulf War-era pictures of burning Kuwaiti oil fields, traditional melancholic music, pearl diving, and oil drilling machinery. Al Qadiri’s objects extract understandings of the present through the manifold contradictions of consumption. Her works have been presented at Sharjah Biennale (2023), Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (2022), Blaffer Art Museum (2022), Haus der Kunst, Munich (2020), Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2020), MoMA PS1, New York (2019-20). In 2022, she was featured in the Venice Biennale’s central exhibition “The Milk of Dreams.”
Growing up in Kuwait, Monira Al Qadiri has always been fascinated by historical and archaeological specificities of the Gulf region, and especially in Saudi Arabia. Since the beginning of her residency, Monira Al Qadiri has been particularly inspired by the hidden structures and geological features of the desert, a theme that she extensively deals with in her practice. During her Residency in AlUla, she has been exploring the vast deserts surrounding the oasis-city of AlUla, and has paid particular attention to the different manners by which humans and nature mutually challenge one another. Where humans readily appropriate the resources their lands provide, nature, with no shortage of tricks, retaliates to construct environments that are hostile to our presence.
“The Guardian” (2023) short film, result of the AlUla Artist Residency program, co-founded by Royal Commission of AlUla in collaboration wih the French Agency for AlUla Development. Through this film, Monira Al Qadiri stages and makes tangible the extraordinary sensation one can experience after spending time in the solitude of remote nature. Elements, landscapes, and even the most discreet living beings gradually acquire a separate, intimidating presence whose spiritual or otherworldly power is invisible but irrevocable.
In this work, seemingly ordinary scenes taken in natural landscapes are brought to life by a whispering voice as if speaking through them.
“The Guardian” suggests a dreamlike dialogue between humans and the environments from which they come, as much as it is foreign to them.