Sophia Al-Maria’s exhibition creates an immersive experience, capturing the chaotic, almost apocalyptic act of consuming. The viewer is invited to experience illusions of order in underlying confusion and pandemonium.
Black Friday (2016) shown here outside museum context for the first time, is a projected video featuring primarily empty malls in Doha (Qatar) and offers a moody, sinister take on shopping. Designed at seemingly impossible scale with incredible heights, the malls featured in the video appear as dizzying temples dedicated to artifice and capitalism, showing how scripted environment of the shopping mall is a form of default religious architecture in a culture of consumerism.
In her new series of works, EVERYTHING MUST GO, Sophia introduces a playful twist, juxtaposing emblems of consumerism with military jargon and captures the crux of the end of days where chaos and destruction are met by a violent military attempt to reinstate order. EVERYTHING MUST GO consists of a large series of stills taken from Black Friday’s The Litany series – an installation of numerous electronic devices displaying flickering, short and glitching loops of countless consumption references – each printed with either a fake beauty product term or military idiom. When read together or even at random, the grouping of words result in absurd and obscene combinations.
Throughout her practice, Sophia has been finding ways to describe 21st century life in the Gulf through art, writing, and film-making. She has explored different complexities such as environmental damage, religious conservatism, and historical contradictions that the Gulf has encountered. Sophia is a young artist aware of the rapid changing times and capable of articulating the controversies that cause friction in contemporary Gulf cities.
Sophia Al Maria is an artist, writer and filmmaker. She studied comparative literature at the American University in Cairo, and aural and visual cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. For the past few years, she has been carrying out research around the concept of Gulf Futurism. Her primary interests are around the isolation of individuals via technology and reactionary Islam, the corrosive elements of consumerism and industry, and the erasure of history and the blinding approach of a future no one is ready for. She explores these ideas with certain guidebooks and ideas including, but not limited to, Zizek’s The Desert of the Unreal, As-Sufi’s Islamic Book of the Dead, as well as imagery from Islamic eschatology, post humanism and the global mythos of Science Fiction.