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Monira al qadiri
Behind the Sun
Vidéo | hdv, VHS | couleur | 10'0'' | Koweït | 2013
After the first Gulf War in 1991, countless oil fields in Kuwait were set ablaze during the retreat of invading forces. Those months following the war were nothing short of the classic image of a biblical apocalypse: the earth belching fire and the black scorched sky felt like a portrait of hell as it should be, an almost romanticized vision of the end of the world. Werner Herzog, lured by the surrealism of this present-day hell, shot his docu-fiction film “Lessons of Darkness” there which placed images of the oil fires alongside Christian biblical texts and a Wagner soundtrack. Inspired by his endeavor, this video re-explores the cataclysmic event and attempts to expand its meaning, especially as the idea of imminent doom is even more omnipresent today. Amateur VHS video footage of the oil fires is juxtaposed with audio monologues from Islamic television programs of the same period. At the time, the tools used to represent religion were geared towards visualizing god through nature. Trees, waterfalls, mountains, and animals were the visual staple of religious media, and the narration was not that of the Koran, but of Arabic poetry recited by a skilled orator with a deep voice.
Monira Al Qadiri is a Kuwaiti visual artist and film maker born in Senegal and educated in Japan. In 2010, she received a Ph.D. in inter-media art from Tokyo University of the Arts, where her research was 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. She is currently expanding her practice towards social and political subjects. Al Qadiri has taken part in exhibitions and film screenings in Tokyo, Kuwait, Beirut, Dubai, Berlin, New York and Moscow among others. She is also part of the artist collective GCC, who has recently held a solo exhibition at MoMA PS1 in 2014.