Fatima Al Qadiri (Dakar, 1981) is a composer and artist from Kuwait whose musical and material output escapes any form of genre specificity or definition other than the one suggested by the title of the exhibition that MACRO
is dedicating to her: Isekai.
Japanese for otherworld, Isekai refers to a type of novel, film, anime, manga or video game in which the central characters are transported into a virtual universe, while the reader or audience follows the protagonist(s) as they discover a parallel world.
Deeply influenced by the narrative and immersive aspects of video games, Al Qadiri conceives and composes music that explores cultural translation, mis-translation and re-interpretation across time and place. The artists unique approach toys with the boundaries of genre and subverts the predominantly abstract nature of electronic music, with each EP or LP offering its own loose narrative. Genres are in fact approached as sonic tropes to dissect and re-imagine through virtual electronic instruments. The stories Al Qadiri tells reflect on cultural stereotypes bred by Western imperialism, on the thresholds between different emotional states and between the natural and the artificial, and above all they depict fantasy worlds that draw uncannily from the multiple and contradictory realities of the present and past, including the artists own memories. In Desert Strike (2012), for example, the composer merges her own memories of living in Kuwait as a child during the Gulf War with the experience of playing Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf, a video game, based on Operation Desert Storm, released by Sega Megadrive in 1992. Al Qadiri grew up between languages and cultures, a vantage point from which it is possible to see that in fact we all live in a web of linguistic and material juxtapositions rooted in colonialism and its ongoing aftermath.
Alongside and as part of her musical production, Al Qadiri has developed a number of collaborations with visual artists, fashion designers and filmmakers including, Khalid al Gharaballi, Ryan Trecartin, Telfar Clemens and Sophia Al Maria. Her music, in fact, often derives from visual experiences and responds to an urge to create a soundtrack that does not yet exist, or to tell a story otherwise and beyond our comfort zones.
The exhibition presents most of Al Qadiris musical output, in chronological order, beginning with her first solo releases, Warn-U published under the alias Ayshay (2010), Genre-Specific Xperience (2011) and Desert Strike (2012), followed by the artists first album, Asiatisch,a simulated road trip through an imagined China released in 2014and arrives in the present day with Medieval Femme (2021), a contemporary musical interpretation influenced by the poetry written by Arab women from the Middle Ages. The cover for this album is an artwork by the artists mother, Thuraya Al-Baqsami, made in 1990 and exhibited in its xerox form at the entrance of the museums listening room. The repertoire also includes Al Qadiris recent collaboration with filmmakers, presenting soundtracks for Mati Diops award winning feature film, Atlantique (2019) and Paco Plazas La abuela (2022). All together the exhibition spans nine releases and twelve years of experimentation with musical languages and the experiences that sound can generate.
FATIMA AL QADIRI (Dakar, 1981), is a Kuwaiti composer and artist, currently residing in Los Angeles. She has released music as a solo artist and as a member of the group Future Brown. Al Qadiri is also a founding member of the Gulf-based collective GCC, whose work has been exhibited at MoMA PS1, Fridericianum, Berlin Bienniale and Sharjah Art Foundation. In 2019, Al Qadiri scored the debut feature film Atlantique by director Mati Diop, which won the Grand Prix at Cannes Film Festival.