An oil refinery industrial zone aglow at night, bathed in an ambient orange hue amidst a smog-laden atmosphere.

Monira Al QadiriLandscapes of extraction

Monira Al Qadiri researches how entire cultures, histories and landscapes are exploited by the addictive but destructive substance of oil.

Monira Al Qadiri, Crude Eye (2022), single-channel video, sound (still)  
Monira Al QadiriLandscapes of extractionDe Balie22 Dec. 2023 7 Jan. 2024

Fossil fuels, oil – and our reliance on it – are at the forefront of the climate crisis. The Kuwaiti visual artist Monira Al Qadiri researches how entire cultures, histories and landscapes are exploited by the addictive but destructive substance of oil. Her work – spanning sculptures, videos and performance – shows how oil-soaked our culture is today and invites visitors to imagine a future without it.

Next to the exhibition Landscapes of extraction at De Balie (22 Dec. 2023 – 7 Jan. 2024) with several works by the artist, De Balie organises a podcast programme about petro-capitalism and post-oil futures with Al Qadiri's works as a starting point of the discussion.

Uncanny landscapes, golden drill bits, speaking murex seashells and pearl diving songs. In the world that Al Qadiri creates she plays with the paradoxical beauty of the destructive oil industry. She pre-empts the end of oil by creating monuments and mythologies around it, as if to eulogise it, like a long lost history from ancient peoples.

Al Qadiri’s work draws upon the transformation of her home country Kuwait and the broader Gulf region. A landscape that was, prior to the discovery and extraction of oil, characterized by the culture of pearl diving. Al Qadiri’s ongoing search for historical ties between the pre- and post-oil Kuwait show how our mindset of extraction today is entangled with the colonial histories of crude oil.

The connection of her work to the Netherlands is hard to miss: colonial larceny, the looting of raw materials and shipping them away overseas. Is oil the very stuff that connects the scarred landscapes across the world, from of the Gulf, to the Nigerdelta and the North Sea?


Monira Al Qadiri is a Kuwaiti artist raised in Senegal and educated in Japan. Her diverse artistic work includes sculpture, installations, film, and performance. She interprets the Gulf's "petro-culture" through hypothesized scenarios, drawing inspiration from science fiction, autobiography, traditional practices, and pop culture. Al Qadiri has exhibited in numerous international venues such as UCCA Dune, China; Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria; Haus der Kunst, Munich; Gasworks, London; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; MoMA PS1, New York and the Sharjah Art Biennial. Her work is present in the collections of the Jameel Arts Center, Dubai and the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, among others. Al Qadiri was a resident at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam in 2016/2017.

This exhibition is a partner project of Hartwig Art Foundation.

In advance to this exhibition, Monira Al Qadiri was selected in 2022 by the Foundation’s Commissioning Committee to produce a work for the collection. The work Future Past 3 (2023) was acquired through the Hartwig Art Production | Collection Fund and presented at UCCA Dune as part of the exhibition Monira Al Qadiri: Haunted Water. The work will be donated to the Dutch state, becoming an integral part of the national art collection (‘Rijkscollectie’), available for institutions in the Netherlands and abroad.