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Sophia Al-Maria

Sophia Al-Maria (1983) studied comparative literature at the American University in Cairo, and aural and visual cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her work spans many disciplines including drawing, film and screenwriting for TV. Her cinematic videos explore postcolonial identity, imperialism, and counter-histories weaving together music, literature, oral history, film and dance. Her fractured, nonlinear works are often cast against a science fiction backdrop and explore the revision of history, the isolation of individuals through technology, and the corrosive elements of consumerism and industry. Recent solo exhibitions include Julia Stoschek Collection, (Düsseldorf, 2020), Tate Britain, (London, 2019–20) and Whitney Museum of American Art, (New York, 2016). In 2018, she was the Writer-In-Residence at Whitechapel Gallery, London and she has a forthcoming Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, (Moscow, 2021).

Al-Maria was BFMAF’s 2018 Artist in Profile and included the world premiere of her film The Magical State as well as a wide-ranging selection of her moving image work.


Tender Point Ruin (2021), Astral Bodies Electric, Makeup! (2019), Beast Type Song (2019), Not Really in Reality Reality TV (2018), Mirror Cookie (2018), Major Motions (2018), The Magical State (2017), Wayuu Creation Myth (2017), Spiral (Fatima Al Qadiri music video, 2017), Mothership (2017), Black Friday (2016), The Limerant Object (2016), The Future Was Desert Parts I-II (2016), The Litany (2016), Little Sister (2015), Sisters (2015), A Whale is a Whale is a Whale (2014), The Watchers 1–5 (2014), Class A (2014), Your Sister (2014), Evil Eye (2014), Choque (2014), Slaughter (2013), Schrodinger’s Girl (2013), Scout (2012)

22 September 2018

‘Temporal Vertigo’ is a wide-ranging selection of moving image work made by artist, writer and filmmaker Sophia Al-Maria over the last seven years. As schizophrenic in form as it is in chronology, the ten works shown move from essay film to music video, documentary, narrative, performance and all points in between. Included are the two part ‘Gulf Futurism’ essay film The Future Was Desert, which images the desert as a place outside of time; enigmatic science-fiction/documentary hybrid Mothership; and two music videos for Fatima Al Qadiri. This program represents the first retrospective screening of Al-Maria’s formally rigorous and beautifully cinematic work, providing a view of visual and thematic cross-contaminations between many different projects.

Q&A with filmmaker Sophia Al-Maria

Run Time

45 mins
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20 September 2018

Shot in Colombia, The Magical State depicts the possession of a Wayuu woman by a 40 million year old oil demon. Framed as an interrogation, an off-screen male voice challenges the woman, who gazes back directly into the viewer’s eyes, placing a curse on ‘man’, the species who have woken it from geological time. The violence of natural resource extraction—and the resulting violation of land rights—are reflected in the demon’s iridescent-coloured rage and stroboscopic movements.



Run Time

6 mins


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