Category: “InVisible” Public Art Commission
Before oil, and for a period of over 2000 years according to some accounts, the economy of the Gulf coastline was almost totally based on pearls. Pearl diving, pearl trading, pearl music: entire cultures were founded on this precious object. Following an extended exploration of Al Qadiri’s biographical relationship to oil, in terms of its materiality, symbolism, ecology and economy, as well as trying to find links between it and a pre-oil world in the Gulf region, she has come to find that a relationship between both industries exists in terms of colour. She discovered that the iridescent colour spectrum of pearls is the lighter version of the same colour spectrum found in crude oil. Although it is a fictional relationship, it is in her view one of the only points that links the two worlds together.
In this project, she recreates these formal links through the shape of drill bits that are used to extract oil. When seen separately, these drill bits resemble forms of marine life, especially when coated with the aforementioned colour scheme. Pre-oil and post-oil, oil and pearls, land and sea: these are merged together to create a harmonious existence based on the evolution of methods of wealth production.
Here the work is a proposal for a public monument. A gigantic iridescent form 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 Al Qadiri’s shimmering monument.
Monira Al Qadiri (born in Senegal, 1983) is a Kuwaiti visual artist based in Beirut. She studied inter-media art at Tokyo University of the Arts, where she received her Ph.D in 2010. Her research focused on the aesthetics of sadness in the Middle East region stemming from poetry, music, art and religious practices. Her work explores the relationship between narcissism and masculinity, as well as other dysfunctional gender roles, and is currently expanding towards more social and political subjects. Recent solo exhibitions include Sultan Gallery, Kuwait and Achievements in Retrospective, Moma PS1, New York, as part of the artist collective GCC. Selected group shows include, X-Apartments Home Works 6, Beirut; The Fertile Crescent: Gender, Art and Society and Princeton Arts Council & Rutgers University, USA.