23 SEPTEMBER 2022 – 8 JANUARY 2023

The Blaffer Art Museum, in partnership with the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts at the University of Houston, is proud to present the first solo museum exhibition in the United States of the work of Berlin-based artist Monira Al Qadiri. Considered one of the most important artists to emerge from the Persian Gulf region in recent years, Al Qadiri came of age during the rapid transformation of her childhood nation of Kuwait—from its status as one of the world’s oldest civilizations, through its dominance of the oil industry, to its current role as a battleground in geopolitics. Al Qadiri’s work examines petroleum-centric cultures, or “petro-cultures,” where life and society are informed by the practices and discourses involving the consumption of, and subsequent dependence on, oil and gas. Her practice broadly serves as a seismograph for this way of life, examining the zeitgeist informed by competing ideas of prosperity, religion, and globalization. The exhibition’s title “Refined Vision” is a playful reflection on these subjects, recalibrating and refocusing perceptions of complex multinational social, economic, and political spheres. The works in Refined Vision range from surreal to melancholic, reflecting the intense and often astonishing scenes that make up the artist’s real (and imagined) memories of her formative years in the Middle East. For this exhibition, Al Qadiri was originally inspired by parallels of wealth and infrastructure between the Texas Gulf Coast and the Persian Gulf region. As a result, she poignantly invokes images and tableaus that will be familiar to both locales, in the hopes that themes will resonate and overlap.Furthermore, Al Qadiri infuses her projects with markers of both the ancient past and a projected future. She often intertwines complicated world histories and cultural issues with humorous technicolor elements of science fiction—via dinosaur remains, interplanetary exploration, or alien technologies. In this way, Al Qadiri urges us to evaluate our current conditions, conscientiously envisioning a planet that is more cognizant of its peoples, lands, and distinction of “resources.”With major support from the Mitchell Center for the Arts at the University of Houston, this exhibition will debut four newly commissioned major artworks that span video, glass, kinetic sculpture, and interactive installations. The exhibition will be accompanied by a monograph co-published in 2023 by Blaffer Art Museum and Inventory Press, Los Angeles, featuring text by curator, educator, and scholar Amin Alsaden and an interview with the artist conducted by exhibition curator Tyler Blackwell.This exhibition is organized by Tyler Blackwell, Curator of Contemporary Art at Speed Art Museum and former Cynthia Woods Mitchell Associate Curator at Blaffer Art Museum. Major support for Monira Al Qadiri: Refined Vision and its catalogue is provided by the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts at the University of Houston.© Images Raisa Hagiu, Marius Land and Tony Elieh



Monira Al Qadiri (b. 1983) is a Kuwaiti visual artist born in Senegal and educated in Japan. Spanning sculpture, installation, film, and performance, Al Qadiri’s multifaceted practice is based on research into the cultural histories of the Gulf region. Her interpretation of the Gulf’s so-called “petro-culture” is manifested through speculative scenarios that take inspiration from science fiction, autobiography, traditional practices, and pop culture, resulting in uncanny and covertly subversive works that destabilize mythologies of statecraft and modernization as well as traditional notions of gender. Tracing the delicate ecologies threate...
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