BFMAF 2018 Artist in Profile Sophia Al-Maria’s practice incorporates diverse forms of visual art, writing and filmmaking—as shown in her ‘Temporal Vertigo’ screening, The Magical State exhibition and beyond. Time travel, genre cinema and visions of the apocalypse become fertile devices that propel Al-Maria’s distinctive works.
Sophia Al-Maria discusses her diverse practice—particularly the series of moving image works shown in the ‘Temporal Vertigo’ retrospective screening and The Magical State exhibition in The Magazine—with BFMAF associate programmer Herb Shellenberger and 2018 seminar leader Taylor Le Melle. Working at the intersection of cinema and contemporary art, Al-Maria’s practice occupies a singular space within the field of artists’ moving image.
‘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
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.