Monira Al Qadiri


Monira Al Qadiri’s work takes you into a enchanting world, where she seduces you into thinking about wealth, sustainability and identity, without passing a moral judgment. Three floating sculptures represent the drill heads of the oil industry, the mesmerizing leaders of industrialized society. Her textiles depict the oil reservoirs magnificently as well. The installation fits in with ABN AMRO’s focus on sustainability and a circular economy. Set in the Circl pavillion Qadiri’s colorful work holds up a mirror to the world stage, where ethical codes of awareness and the pursuit of honesty have to cross swords with the power of seduction.


This textile-based sculpture shows the hallucinatory depiction of geological reservoirs, the oil-containing rock overlain by impervious layers. In 1975, only two years after the global oil crisis, a group of Brazilian employees of an oil company discovered an oil field in South-Iraq that was so big they called it ‘Majnoon:’ Arabic for ‘insane.’ Oil had taken on mythical proportions in the public imagination.


The actual drilling for oil is just as extravagant, feels Monira. Surreal looking drills are driven into the earth in the hope of discovering a treasure in the reservoir rock, where oil was formed from organic waste in the Jurassic Period, 200 to 500 million years ago. Today, oil is still the largest source of wealth in the world, whereas it has been established without question that it is irresponsible to exploit the earth in this way and condone the related pollution and greed.

The tantalizingly iridescent drill bit models float and twist, as if they were drilling in the air. The architectural, spiral-shaped models are reminiscent of the tower of Babel and symbolize the infinite human desire to be upwardly mobile and gain more wealth and power.


Gustav Mahlerplein 1B, Amsterdam

Weekdays from 8 am until the restaurant closes, closed on weekends, and closed from July 28 until August 12

Monira Al Qadiri (1983) is a visual artist and film maker who was born in Senegal, raised in Kuwait and educated in Japan. She currently lives in Berlin (Germany). In 2010 she received a Ph.D in intermedia art from Tokyo University of the Arts. Her research focused on the aesthetics of sadness in poetry, music, art and Middle Eastern religious practices. In her work she explores the relationship between narcissism and masculinity, as well as other dysfunctional gender roles. Currently she is expanding her practice to social and political subjects. Al Qadiri took part in exhibitions and film screenings in Tokyo, Kuwait, Beirut, Dubai, Berlin, New York and Moscow, among others. She is one of the co-founders of artist collective GCC.


Floating drill bits and hanging mountains: Kuwaiti artist and filmmaker Monira Al Qadiri (1983) guides the spectator into a mysterious world, meanwhile asking relevant and topical questions about oil, wealth, sustainability and identity. Monira’s work comports with ABN AMRO’s core values: to contribute to a sustainable society and to be part of a circular economy. The GET LOST initiative fits in with these core values perfectly as well. It links young promising artists to businesses, as a result of which both parties are taken out of their comfort zone. The tension this confrontation creates is a fertile ground for new ideas. Also, it provides artists with a wider platform, and introduces Zuidas visitors to new and young talent.