Monira Al Qadiri / Senegal/Kuwait/Germany b.1983 / DIVER (production still) 2018 / Four-channel video projection: 4:3, colour, sound / Commissioned for APT9 / Produced by Durub Al Tawaya (DAT), the performing arts program of Abu Dhabi Art, Warehouse421 Abu Dhabi and the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT) / © The artist / Image courtesy: The artist

Monira Al Qadiri
DIVER 2018

On Display: GOMA, Gallery 3.5

Monira Al Qadiri’s four-sided video installation entitled DIVER 2018 recalls a large-scale aquarium. Onscreen, swimmers perform synchronised routines that mimic the repetitive movements of the pearl diver. The soundtrack of Kuwaiti pearling songs pays homage to the artist’s grandfather, who was a singer on a pearling ship; boats were assigned a singer to boost morale in this notoriously dangerous occupation. With the loss of pearling traditions, these songs — some dating back 800 years — are now only played in tourist centres or found in anthropological recordings. In Al Qadiri’s video, sound and image come together in a combination of technicolour aqua-musical and haunting mourning ritual.

Through sculpture, installation and video, Monira Al Qadiri explores the connections between oil and pearls, two disparate industries in the Persian Gulf with a shared history. Both involve laborious extraction techniques and are associated with wealth and status. A major source of trade in the Gulf region for centuries, pearling declined rapidly following the discovery of oil in the 1900s, together with the development of mass-produced pearls in Japan. In the early twenty-first century, nations such as Kuwait are preparing for a post-oil future, and the artist draws comparisons in her work with this foresight and the collapse of the pearling industry.

Contemporary context

How does Monira Al Qadiri:

  • challenge ideas of the past?
  • use materials, technologies or approaches to affect the audience experience?
  • provoke discussion about twenty-first-century issues and concerns?

Personal context

How does Monira Al Qadiri:

  • communicate influences on her life and experiences?
  • generate ideas from her own experiences, imagination or memories?
  • create sensory experiences to generate emotional responses from the viewer?

Cultural context

How does Monira Al Qadiri:

  • reflect community interests through social commentary?
  • respond to cultural influences?

Formal context

How does Monira Al Qadiri:

  • employ specific art elements and principles to communicate meaning?
  • enhance the interpretation of the artwork through processes, materials and media?