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Entries in Sophia Al Maria (1)

Friday
Jul012016

Sand Begets Glass

Sophia Al-Maria and I talk shopping malls, war, climate change and Gulf futurism for Frieze...

In the 1990s, Sophia Al-Maria exiled herself from American teenhood by choosing to live in her grandmother’s home in the Qatari capital, Doha. There, she had a front-row seat for the cataclysmic cultural and environmental changes unleashed on the Gulf by extraction industries, climate change and mobile technologies – the subjects that have become the focus of her work. The dark sides of technology and late capitalism are the thematic hallmarks of her films, installations and writings. She first discussed these issues in her essays on ‘Gulf futurism’ – a concept she initially articulated in 2007 – and in her memoir-as-novel The Girl Who Fell to Earth (2012). The fragmenting identities explored in her writing continue to inform her installations and film projects, while her unfinished feature film, the rape-revenge fantasy Beretta, looks at sexual violence in Egypt. Characterized by a pessimism she calls ‘doomy’, her work certainly has a dark seam running through it but, in conversation, Al-Maria reveals a lively sense of history and family, as well as a profound curiosity about the world. She talks, too, about her first US solo show, which opens in July at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.