Project Native Informant

Sophia Al-Maria

Sophia Al-Maria is a Qatari-American artist, writer, and filmmaker living and working in London. Though her work spans many disciplines including drawing, collage, sculpture and film it is united by a preoccupation with the power of storytelling and myth, and in particular with imagining revisionist histories and alternative futures.

With her friend and collaborator Fatima Al Qadiri, Al-Maria coined the term “Gulf Futurism” to describe the growing atomisation of individuals and the shifting ground of urban planning, aesthetics, and media, and their impact on everyday life in the post-oil Persian Gulf. Her cinematic artist’s videos are fuelled by the combination of critical rigour with an affective charge in their explorations of language, imperialism, and counter-histories – a deep investigation and dramatisation of the sociopolitical, economic, and environmental present.

Al-Maria’s debut exhibition in the United States, at the Whitney Museum of Art, 2016, attends to the Gulf’s embrace of consumerism. Black Friday features primarily of shots of empty shopping centres in Doha. An unseen narrator declares the mall as the place “where the glamorous heart of evil is born”, a place of entrapment and confusion complete with faces blurred beyond recognition and bodies collapsed on the floor. 

Al-Maria was Whitechapel Gallery’s Writer in Residence 2018, resulting in her exhibition BCE comprising of films, performances and readings, including her first collaboration with the artist Sin Wai Kin. Her most recent collection of essays and writings, Sad Sack, was published by Book Works in 2019.

In 2021, Al-Maria debuted a new video work, Tender Point Ruin, at the Luma Foundation, Arles. The sequel and concluding chapter to a trilogy of videos that began with Beast Type Song, Tate Britain, 2019, Tiger Strike Red, is currently on show at Applied Arts Pavilion as part of The Milk Of Dreams | 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia.

In 2023, Al-Maria will present the trilogy of videos together for the first time in the a solo exhibition, Not My Bag, at the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle. 

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Solo Exhibitions
2023Not My Bag, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle
Beast Type Song, Turku Museum of Art, Finland
2022Pidge, Project Native Informant, London
INVISIBLE LABORS daydream therapy, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha
2021Tender Point Ruin, LUMA Westbau, Zurich
Beast Type Song, GARAGE, Moscow
taraxos, Serpentine Gallery, London
2020BITCH OMEGA, Julia Stoschek Collection, Düsseldorf
2019Project Native Informant at Frieze London, London
Beast Type Song, Tate Britain, London
Mirror Cookie, Fondazione Pomodoro, Milan
BCE, Whitechapel Gallery, London
2018Black Friday, Mercer Union, Montreal
Mirror Cookie, Project Native Informant at Art Basel Hong Kong, Hong Kong
ilysm, Project Native Informant, London
2017EVERYTHING MUST GO, The Third Line, Dubai
2016Black Friday, Whitney Museum, New York
Imitation of Life, HOME, Manchester
2014Virgin with a Memory, Cornerhouse, Manchester
Two and Three-Person Exhibitions
2024Grey Unpleasant Land with Lydia Ourahmane, Spike Island, Bristol
Group Exhibitions
2024A Model, MUDAM, Luxembourg
2023Watering the Desert, Yuz Museum, Shanghai
HOPE | TECHNO HUMANITIES, MUSEION, Bolzano
TOMORROWS – Notes on the Future of the Earth, Castel San Pietro, Verona
PNI @ 10, Project Native Informant, LondonEverybody Talks About the Weather, Fondazione Prada, Milan
2022A Wake Up Song Mr. President, Abdellia Palace, Tunis
Chaos : Calm | Bangkok Art Biennale, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
Coming Together in Parts, Museum Brandhorst, Munich
Geneva Biennale | Sculpture Garden, Geneva Biennale, Geneva
MYR, McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, San Francisco
The Milk Of Dreams | 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, Applied Arts Pavilion at the Sale d'Armi, Arsenale, Venice2021Wishbone Vision, Project Native Informant, London
Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival 2021, Berwick-Upon-Tweed
Prelude, LUMA, Arles
A FIRE IN MY BELLY, Julia Stoschek Collection, Berlin
Me, Family, Mudam Luxembourg, Online
2020Tarax’sup?, Serpentine Gallery, Online
Group Show, Project Native Informant, London
More, More, More, TANK, Shanghai
To Dream Effectively, Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea
Play and Loop II, Blindspot Gallery, Hong Kong
Our World is Burning, Palais de Tokyo, Paris
2019Seized by the Left Hand, Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee
The Last Supper, Faena Art, Miami
Transformer: A Rebirth of Wonder, 180 The Strand, London
Rewriting The Future: Sophia Al Maria, Sonya Dyer, Ursula Mayer, Victoria Sin, Site Gallery, Sheffield
Age of You, Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto
Voyage Around my Room, Polyeco Contemporary Art Initiative, Athens
The Long Now, MaerzMusik’s Festival, Berlin
2018Biennale de l’Image Movement, Centre d'Art Contemporain Genève, Geneva
Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival 2018, Berwick-Upon-Tweed
Let’s Talk About the Weather: Art and Ecology in a Time of Crisis, Guangdong Times Museum
Putting Out, Gavin Brown Enterprise, New York
I Was Raised on the Internet, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
2017Biennale of Moving Images, Miami
No to the Invasion: Breakdowns and Side Effect, CCS Bard Gallery, New York
Mondialite, Villa Empain Boghossian Foundation, Brussels
The New Normal, Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art, Beijing
Eternal Youth, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
2016Biennale de l’Image Movement, Centre d'Art Contemporain Genève, Geneva
Let's Talk About the Weather: Art and Ecology in a Time of Crisis, Sursock Museum, Beirut
Repetition, Villa Empain-Boghossian Foundation, Brussels
Transformation Marathon, Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London
201589plus: Filter Bubble, LUMA Westbau, Zurich
New Museum Triennial: Surround Audience, New Museum, New York
2014Extinctions Marathon: Visions of the Future, Serpentine Gallery, London
Whose Gaze Is It Anyway, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
King Tide: The Bridge Commission Audio Walks, Serpentine Gallery, London
2013Do It, Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester
2012Scout, Gwanju Biennale, South Korea
2011Genre Specific Xperience, New Museum, New York,
Publications
2019Sad Sack: Collected Writings, Book Works, London
2014Virgin with a Memory, Cornerhouse Publications, Manchester
2012The Girl Who Fell to Earth, Harper Perennial, New York
Special Projects
2023Gravity & Grace, Miu Miu Spring Summer 2024, Paris
Public Collections
Art Jameel, Dubai
Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah
Julia Stoschek Foundation, Berlin
LUMA Foundation, Arles
MATHAF, Doha
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
PCAI Collection, Athens
TATE, London
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Installation View

Sophia Al-Maria
Not My Bag, 2023
Henry Art Gallery, Seattle

Sophia Al-Maria

F.F.W.H.H.R.O.S.

2023
Collaged found material and pen on acetate, framed
78 x 60 x 2 cm
30 3/4 x 23 5/8 x 3/4 in

Installation View

Sophia Al-Maria
Not My Bag, 2023
Henry Art Gallery, Seattle

Sophia Al-Maria

Detail: Al Atlal

2023
Film ephemera, collected found material, pen, acrylic, string and index text
Dimensions variable

Installation View

Sophia Al-Maria
Tiger Strike Red, 2022
59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, Venice

Sophia Al-Maria

Still: Tiger Strike Red

2022
Single-channel HD video
23 mins 03 secs

Sophia Al-Maria

Still: Tiger Strike Red

2022
Single-channel HD video
23 mins 03 secs

Installation View

Sophia Al-Maria
Pidge, 2022
Project Native Informant, London

Sophia Al-Maria

Detail: prophylactic device

2022
Diptych c-type print, found lithograph, acrylic on glass, aluminium frame
Each: 69 x 38 x 3.5 cm
27 1/8 x 15 x 1 3/8 in

Sophia Al-Maria

Detail: telephone to heaven

2022
Tamperproof pigeon racing clock, steel globe stand, wooden replica Cho Chang wand, plastic pigeon determent hanging eyes, metal pigeon predator replica and broken iPhone screen
156 x 30 x 46 cm
61 3/8 x 11 3/4 x 18 1/8 in

Installation View

Sophia Al-Maria
taraxos, 2021
Serpentine Gallery, London

Safi's Kid

Sophia Al-Maria

2021
Giclée print, framed
47.5 x 68.2 x 3.5 cm
18 3/4 x 26 7/8 x 1 3/8 in

Sophia Al-Maria

Still: Tender Point Ruin

2021
Single-channel HD video
26 mins, 00 secs

Sophia Al-Maria

Still: Tender Point Ruin

2021
Single-channel HD video
26 mins, 00 secs

Sophia Al-Maria

Beast Mode

2020
Pen, marker pen and acrylic on script page
47 × 36.5 × 3.7 cm
18 1/2 × 14 3/8 × 1 1/2 in

Sophia Al-Maria

& Goats

2021
Photograph of Muammar Gaddafi in Piccadilly Circus, passport photo, pay slip, crossword puzzle, page from 1970s British Fetish Magazine, gold ring and pen on acetate, framed
47.5 x 32.5 x 3.5 cm
18 3/4 x 12 3/4 x 1 3/8 in

Sophia Al-Maria

& Oranges

2021
Identity card, cookie fortune, love heart gems, photographs, soap packaging, question by Aneesa, postcards from Doha Ramada, comic book scrap and pen on acetate, framed
47.5 x 32.5 x 3.5 cm
18 3/4 x 12 3/4 x 1 3/8 in

Installation View

Sophia Al-Maria
Beast Type Song, 2019
TATE Britain, London

Sophia Al-Maria

Still: Beast Type Song

2019
Single-channel HD video
38 mins, 03 secs

Sophia Al-Maria

Still: The Limerent Object II

2019
Single-channel HD video and installation
8 mins, 00 secs

Installation View

Sophia Al-Maria, Sin Wai Kin
TRANSFORMER: a Rebirth of Wonder, 2019
180 Strand, London

Sophia Al-Maria, Sin Wai Kin

Still: Astral Bodies Electric, Makeup!

2019
Two-channel HD video
18 mins, 27 secs

Sophia Al-Maria, Sin Wai Kin

Still: Astral Bodies Electric, Makeup!

2019
Two-channel HD video
18 mins, 27 secs

Installation View

Sophia Al-Maria
Mirror Cookie, 2019
Fondazione Pomodoro, Milan

Installation View

Sophia Al-Maria
BCE with Sin Wai Kin, 2019
Whitechapel Gallery, London

Sophia Al-Maria, Sin Wai Kin

Still: BCE

2019
Single-channel HD video
9 mins, 43 secs

Installation View

Sophia Al-Maria
ilysm, 2018
Project Native Informant, London

Sophia Al-Maria

Still: The Future Was Desert Part I

2016
Single-channel HD video
5 mins, 17 secs

Sophia Al-Maria

Still: The Future Was Desert Part II

2016
Single-channel HD video
4 mins, 35 secs

Sophia Al-Maria

Still: The Future Was Desert Part I

2016
Single-channel HD video
5 mins, 17 secs

Installation View

Sophia Al-Maria
Black Friday, 2016
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Installation View

Sophia Al-Maria
Black Friday, 2016
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Sophia Al-Maria

Still: Mothership

2017
Single-channel HD video
02 mins, 48 secs

Sophia Al-Maria

Still: Mothership

2017
Single-channel HD video
02 mins, 48 secs

Installation View

Sophia Al-Maria
The Magical State, 2018
Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival, Berwick Upon Tweed

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