Two vast shimmering objects occupy the centre of the abandoned Schwarzkaue (black changing room) at the General Blumenthal Mine, each revolving around itself. They appear to be machines from the future, as yet unused, or living extra-terrestrial creatures from a sci-fi film. However, these sculptures by the artist Monira Al Qadiri (*1983) are large-scale reproductions of drill bits from the Kuwaiti oil industry. Their iridescent lacquer is reminiscent of the colour spectrum of this black gold and that of pearls. Long before oil was discovered, pearl diving was the most valuable sector of Kuwait’s economy. However, crude oil has long since provided the economic foundations of the country in which Monira Al Qadiri grew up – the commodity is ubiquitous, yet the technology and processes of its exploitation are barely visible to the public. By contrast in the Ruhr Area, where coal mining – like the oil industry in Kuwait – was the main pillar of the economy for a long time, the extraction of natural resources now belongs to the past and the machines that were once used to mine coal can now be seen in museums. Once the oil fields have been exhausted, this might also someday be the case in Kuwait.
This country in the Middle East repeatedly plays a role in Monira Al Qadiri’s works – whether in exploring the cultural history of pearl diving, the pop culture of her teenage years with its heavy American influences or experiences of the Gulf War, which she witnessed as a child. Despite the complexity of her themes, she approaches them with considerable humour in her installations, performances and sculptures.
The work Future Past was developed in the context of the exhibition Ruhr Ding: Klima and was on view from 22.5—27.6.2021 at the colliery General Blumenthal in Recklinghausen.
It takes about 15 minutes by bike from the main rail-way station to the colliery. By public transport, the colliery can be reached from Recklinghausen main station by bus 214 and 270.