Sophia Al Maria
13 April 2018 - 2 June 2018
Opening Reception 12 April 2018 7pm
Sophia Al Maria’s exhibition Black Friday foregrounds the artist’s ongoing investigation into the accelerated development of the Gulf Nations and the sobering signs of a hyper-capitalist future to come.
The large scale single-channel video installation Black Friday (2016) features hypnotic renderings of Qatari shopping malls that are often distorted and refracted, creating a dizzying disorientation of space. Through its vertical projection, booming soundtrack, and ominous voice-over, the work offers a distinctly apocalyptic take on the mall as consumer sanctuary. Al Maria’s likening of the mall to a sacred temple is linked to her decade-long examination of Gulf culture with its ideological mistrust of western values and simultaneous embrace of American-style consumerism. Al Maria coined the phrase Gulf Futurism in 2007 to describe the coexistence of these cultural extremes, and the dystopic future that they profess.
The installation of Black Friday will be paired with The Future was Desert, Parts 1 & 2 (2016), a two-channel video that pays homage to the desert as a harsh fictional landscape, serving as an impending site for human civilization. By pairing the two works, the exhibition at Mercer Union depicts Al Maria’s imagined Gulf future, one punctuated by prophetic isolation.
Sophia Al Maria received her BA from the American University in Cairo and her MFA from Goldsmiths College, London. Recent solo exhibitions have been held at The Third Line, Dubai (2017); Whitney Museum, New York (2016); and Cornerhouse, Manchester (2014). She has participated in numerous group exhibitions in museums, galleries and biennials across the US, Europe and the Middle East, including Kunsthall Stavanger (2017); Biennale of Moving Images, Miami (2017); CCS Bard, New York (2017); Villa Empain Boghassian Foundation, Brussels (2017); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2017); Sursock Museum, Beirut (2016); Villa Stück, Munich (2016); the New Museum Triennial, New York (2015); Serpentine Gallery, London (2014); ICA London (2014); and the 9th Gwanju Biennale (2012), among others. Al Maria is the author of The Last Rose of Summer (2015), Virgin With A Memory (2014) and The Girl Who Fell to Earth (2012). She has guest edited the Happy Hypocrite – Fresh Hell, Issue 8 and contributed to various journals including Bloomsbury Qatar and Bidoun. Her work is represented by The Third Line, Dubai.
Black Friday is co-curated and co-presented with the Images Festival, April 12 – 20, 2018, and presented in partnership with Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.
Image: Sophia Al Maria, still from Black Friday, 2016. Digital video, colour, sound, 16 min. Courtesy the artist and The Third Lind, Dubai.