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Monira Al Qadiri is a Kuwaiti visual artist with roots in Senegal and educational ties to Japan. Her extensive portfolio encompasses sculpture, installation, film, and performance, all centered around the exploration of the cultural history of the Gulf region. Al Qadiri’s interpretation of the “Petro-culture” of the Gulf region takes shape in speculative scenarios influenced by science fiction, autobiography, traditional practices, and pop culture, resulting in unsettling and subversive works. Her latest exhibition is showcased at the König Galerie, St. Agnes.

USURPER confronts us with the topic of theft: theft of vision, theft of life, and theft of the natural world – the environmental destruction wrought by the excavation and use of fossil fuels, especially petroleum. Upon entering the exhibition, you’re immediately struck by the monumental sculpture, THE GUARDIAN, resembling a plant in white. It represents the toxic “Calotropis Procera,” known as the “Apple of Sodom.” Al Qadiri uses it as a symbol for societal blindness in the post-factual age. Moving through the entrance, you encounter a new environment with bright light and compelling music, creating an otherworldly atmosphere. Al Qadiri unfolds the core narrative of USURPER, focusing on the sculptural installation ONUS—a haunting scene depicting the ecological aftermath of the Gulf War. Oil, a recurring motif, symbolizes significant moments in Al Qadiri’s life. The sculpture MINER, her largest 3D-printed work, transforms oil industry drill heads into otherworldly artifacts, reflecting on Kuwait’s history of pearl diving and oil discovery. In USURPER, Al Qadiri weaves various stories, historical motifs, and personal experiences into a timeless narrative about power, violence, and the potential future beyond the era of oil.

Monira Al Qadiri, Usurper, 2024, Berlin, Courtesy of the artist & KÖNIG GALERIE,

Photography by Roman März

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