Born in Senegal and raised in Kuwait, New York City and Berlin-based composer and conceptual artist Fatima Al Qadiri creates rich and diverse works that sensitively explore the experience of war, memory, Western perceptions of other cultures, and sociocultural identity through sound and visuals.
In October 2010, Al Qadiri produced Muslim Trance, a mix for DIS magazine under the alias Ayshay, which garnered her much attention. The following year, Al Qadiri and Kuwaiti artist Khalid Al Gharaballi received a grant from the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture to produce a video and sculpture installation entitled Mendeel Um A7mad (NxIxSxM), bolstering Al Qadiri’s position in the visual arts sphere. She later became a member of the fêted art collective GCC, whose work has been exhibited at MoMA PS1, Fridericianum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among others. She is also part of the group Future Brown, a collaboration with Asma Maroof, Daniel Pineda and J-Cush.
As a producer, Al Qadiri rejects convention. Her sound communicates her life experience, often mixing parts of traditional Arabic music with today’s new electronic trends and genres such as footwork, minimalist grime or video game melodies, which was the basis for her extraordinary album, Desert Strike. In her idiosyncratic world she places importance on her compositions, the design of the releases, an obsession with the cruelty of war and police surveillance – the concept behind her 2015 album, Brute – and constant creation, both solo and alongside numerous collaborators from varied fields.
Al Qadiri’s career has moved in an interesting direction with her latest EP, Shaneera, on the cover of which she appears as a drag queen of sorts. The title of the project describes the themes she discusses; “Shaneera” means “outrageous” or “disgusting” and is also slang for “evil queen” in several Arabic countries. The album is an open love letter to all the world’s queens, and its lyrics are full of references to Grindr chats and pieces of monologue concerning drag queens and gender politics. For this project, Fatima plays live for the first time and presents a new show that uses intriguing visual devices, exploring the precarious space between masculinity and femininity.
On 29 Mar 2019, London’s Southbank Centre presents ‘Concrete Lates: Fatima Al Qadiri Live & Aïsha Devi’. A part of Re-Textured Festival, this is a rare opportunity to see Al Qadiri, plus a transcendental live set from Aïsha Devi, live in the UK. Re-Textured Festival is a new multi-venue, multi-sensory festival for London. The festival combines experimental electronic music, brutalist and modernist architecture and innovative lighting installations for an arresting visual and sonic experience. Book tickets here.
Feature image via Fatima Al Qadiri