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Alien Technology II by Monira Al Qadiri
"Big oil"--drilling operations, pipelines, spills, the Gulf of Mexico, the Persian Gulf, global industries, limited resources. And perhaps this sublimely out-of-proportion sculpture of an oil drill bit alludes to much more. Step into this monolith's magnetic field; conjure its multiple meanings through a close encounter.

Alien Technology II is a sculpture by Kuwaiti artist Monira Al Qadiri, featured in the Winter 2016 issue of Mizna (the Environment Issue), commissioned by Mizna and co-presented with the Soap Factory. Alien Technology II is Al Qadiri's second large-scale piece about the Gulf's--and her own family's--pearl diving past, the massive oil industry that replaced it, and their shared environments, narratives, and aesthetics--pearls and oil are two rare, uniquely iridescent materials. Their physical and geographic overlaps suggest deeper entwinements the artist compels us to explore.

The Gulf pearl industry is invisible to most, a forgotten history after the economic transformation triggered by oil. But for 2,000 years previous, the coastal Gulf economy was largely based on pearls. Pearl diving, trading, even pearl music: culture founded on a coveted resource, not unlike oil.

With entrancing colors and strange appendages, Al Qadiri's giant, shimmering drill bit also evokes bioluminescent marine life, or some futuristic organic machine--alien technology, forged here through a history of pearls, an era of oil, and an environmental future open and unknown.

Alien Technology II is a new frontier for Mizna, commissioned for the 2017 Northern Spark all-night art festival in the Twin Cities, produced by NorthernLights.mn. The sculpture was fabricated in Minnesota by specialist craftsman Trever Nicholas and co-presented the iconoclastic art space The Soap Factory, where the sculpture is on view through 2018.

The Soap Factory, 514 2nd St SE Minneapolis 55414, from June 11 to mid 2018!


Monira Al Qadiri is a Kuwaiti visual artist born in Senegal and educated in Japan. In 2010, she received a Ph.D. in inter-media art from Tokyo University of the Arts, where her research was focused on the aesthetics of sadness in the Middle-East stemming from poetry, music, art and religious practices. Her work explores unconventional gender identities, petro-cultures and their possible futures, as well as their legacies of corruption. She is also part of the artist collective GCC. www.moniraalqadiri.com

The Soap Factory is a laboratory for artistic experimentation and innovation, dedicated to supporting artists and engaging audiences through the production and presentation of contemporary art in a unique and historic environment. We are unabashedly artist-centered; offering audiences a visceral and immediate experience of art and of the life of the artist. Based in the historic National Purity Soap Factory in downtown Minneapolis, The Soap Factory is a 501(c)(3) non-profit.


Click to download the attached file(s):

  • Alien Technology II Press Release (Click here to download our full press release)