Floating World by Monira Al Qadiri
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ICD Brookfield Place in DIFC presents Floating World, an exhibition featuring two works by Kuwaiti artist Monira Al Qadiri: Benzene Float and Nawa, which are dedicated to petro-culture. In the exhibited art pieces, she examines the sustainability of fossil fuels, drawing our attention to their invisibility. The show will be open to the public until 3 January 2024.

The Benzene Float installation includes five large-scale (some more than 6m in length) inflatable sculptures hovering in the air. They depict molecular structures of petrochemicals, such as benzene, propane gas, and naphthalene. Emphasising the dominance oil-derived chemicals have on daily life, the sculptures are coated in iridescent fabrics. It is a reference to pearl diving which once was crucial to the Gulf region and was later replaced by the oil industry. 

Monira Al Qadiri, Benzene Float, 2023.

The Nawa series delves into the invisible processes of the oil industry. At the centre is the composition of steel rope cables carrying oil from the earthen depths to the surface. When cut in half, these ropes reveal mesmerising geometric patterns that look similar to flowers in bloom, fractals, or decorative elements. Al Qadiri has recreated these visual elements into a series of 50 2D metal sculptures. They are made up of various shades of iridescent colours inspired by the shimmering surface of the oil itself. 

Monira Al Qadiri, Floating World (installation view). ICD Brookfield Place, DIFC, Dubai, 2023. Photo by Seeing Things.

About the artist

Monira Al Qadiri (b. 1983, Dakar, Senegal) lives and works in Berlin (Germany). Her art practice encompasses sculpting, video, installations, and performances. She has a PhD in Intermedia Art received from Tokyo University of the Arts (Japan) in 2010.

Drawing inspiration from science fiction, autobiography, traditional practices, and pop culture, in her work, Al Qadiri explores the cultural histories of the Gulf region and its petro-culture. In her works, the artist highlights the vulnerable ecologies threatened by the oil industry’s resource extraction and portrays a world in which this fossil is a relic of humanity’s past. Among the recurring themes in Al Qadiri’s artworks are pearls and oil. In some art pieces, the artist connects pearls to oil, as they both have the same iridescent colour. Another theme she is interested in is gender identity.

Monira Al Qadiri, Benzene 3, 2022. Hand-blown Murano glass. 5 7/10 × 15 × 9 4/5 in | 14.5 × 38 × 25 cm.
Edition 2/2 + 1AP.

Al Qadiri has displayed her creations in a plethora of solo and group exhibitions such as Holy Quarter (Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain, 2022); The Milk of Dreams, Venice Biennale (Italy, 2022); Diver (Art Gallery of Burlington, Ontario, Canada, 2021); Holy Quarter (Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany, 2020); Reservoir Bits (Circl Pavilion, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2018); Legacy (Athr Gallery, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 2017); Living On: In Other Words on Living (Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, Austria, 2016); DUST (Center for Contemporary Art, Warsaw, Poland, 2015); Never Never Land (Edge of Arabia Projects, London, UK, 2014); and Exposure (Beirut Art Center, Beirut, Lebanon, 2013), among others.

To learn more about Floating World, please visit the show’s official web page.

You might also be interested in visiting Dubai Pearl Museum and the Tethys exhibition by Nabil Nahas.