Search archive


Ibraaz Talks: Art Dubai 2013

Sophia Al-Maria: On Automobiles

005 / 8 May 2013

This March, Ibraaz launched its public programme in partnership with Art Dubai. Dubbed Ibraaz Talks, this is a series of specially curated conversations with artists, curators and writers at Art Dubai. Each participant was invited to respond to a particular issue or keyword that they felt in some way addressed formal and conceptual issues affecting contemporary visual culture. In this interview, artist, writer and filmmaker, Sophia Al-Maria, paints a gripping picture of automobile culture in the Arabian Gulf and beyond. Here, Al-Maria touches upon Bedouin life, the loss and rebirth of a mobile society, cultural appropriation, boredom and wildness. She discusses the glorification of the vehicle as an extension of desire, its use as a social emblem and considers the influence of modern and contemporary American culture on the way we live today.


This video interview also features excerpts from Sophia Al-Maria's collaboration with Fatima Al Qadiri, How Can I Resist U, 2012.




Sophia Al-Maria is an artist, writer, and filmmaker whose work has been exhibited at the Gwangju Biennale in South Korea, the Dowse Museum in New Zealand and the Architectural Association in London among others. She explores her interest in 'Gulf Futurism' through sculpture, video and sound, explaining it as a, 'projection of conditions the rest of the world is moving towards.' Her writing has appeared in Harper'sTriple Canopy, and Bidoun where she was a contributing editor. Her first book, The Girl Who Fell to Earth, was published in 2012. The New York Times reviewed her book, saying, 'Hers is a more visceral exploration. She offers us an original outlook on ancient ground – what any artist hopes to achieve.'


Currently she is in pre-production on her first feature film, Beretta, a rape-revenge thriller set in Cairo.


About the author

Omar Kholeif

Omar Kholeif is a curator, writer, editor and sometime producer. He is the Manilow Senior Curator at the MCA Chicago. Previously he was Curator at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, Senior Visiting Curator at Cornerhouse and HOME, Manchester and Senior Editor at Ibraaz. The author of over a dozen books, he also writes widely for the international press and was a founding editor of Portal 9, an Arabic-English journal of urbanism and architecture. His publications include, Vision, Memory and Media (2010),  Far and Wide: Nam June Paik (2013), You Are Here: Art After the Internet (2014), Jeddah Childhood circa 1994 (2014), Before History (2015), Two Days After Forever: A Reader (2015) and Moving Image (2015). Follow Omar on Twitter: @everythingOK.