WaWa Complex, 2011, Fatima Al Qadiri w/ Khalid Al Gharaballi (From WaWa Series)
There is little distinction between Fatima Al Qadiri’s work as an artist and composer. Her compositions and related performances are intertwined and in reference to the cross-pollination of genres, mediums, and artifacts of culture that infiltrates her video art and multimedia installations. Her most recent musical output, Desert Strike EP, is a testament to this blending of disparate ideas.
Born in Senegal and raised in Kuwait, Al Qadiri studied Linguistics at New York University and has performed and exhibited at the New Museum, MoMa, the Kitchen, and Performa, among others. As a child, she also witnessed the unfolding of the Gulf War. A love for and fascination with video games grew during this period and sustained for years afterward. In particular, the Sega Megadrive game “Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf,” which involves a US army helicopter waging war on a Middle Eastern country, was a frequent source of entertainment. The dichotomy between her own experiences outside of and in relation to videogames shapes the sound of the EP.
Desert Strike is filled with dry, hypnotic beats, cold, 8-bit-like synths and gunshots to create songs that are haunting and ethereal. The all-instrumental work is a deep and heavy soundtrack to a surreal yet familiar game that has yet to be not been created. But most importantly, it is a smart piece of music and work of art. Like her previous work, Genre-Specific Xperience, Desert Strike is representative of a multi-faceted and post-modern consumption of music and culture that fits in seamlessly with the sounds and creators of contemporary society.
Dala3 (in Vegas), 2011, Fatima Al Qadiri w/ Khalid Al Gharaballi (From WaWa Series)
It should come as no surprise that under-recognized post-punk band Crash Course in Science met while attending art school in Philadelphia in 1979. Band members Dale Feliciello, Mallory Yago, and Michael Zodorozny experimented with the then-burgeoning musical genre by replacing the jangular and distorted guitars, rhythmic drums, and synthesizer beats with childhood toys and common kitchen appliances. Their choice of instruments was born out of curiosity as much as necessity: How could they create the music they wanted with their limited student resources?
Thankfully, their choices resulted in a sound uniquely their own: peculiarly original minimalism vocals mixed with danceable and downright catchy beats. Coupled with a need to express and explore their interest in performance art and music, their final product in such songs as “Cakes in the Home,” and “Cardboard Lamb” resonated for years after. The band is frequently regarded as an influential force in the electro sound and the techno industrial genres.
I recently spoke with Zodorozny about their initial interest in performance art and how it influenced everything from their live shows to the creation of their Frankenstein-like instruments.
You've been classified as a post-punk band. Would you consider that to be an accurate term for your sound and aesthetics?
Crash Course in Science was formed in 1979 so we would consider being referred to as post-punk band accurate. We were inspired by punk-rock music and we we’re all big fans of the genre. We were also inspired by the work of Brian Eno prior to the punk explosion. As artists and songwriters, Crash Course in Science became a format for our expression.
Can you tell me a little more about the performance art aspect tied to the band? What was/is your history with performance art?
The three of us performed personal performance ...
Although she identifies as an artist and “conceptual entrepreneur,” Martine Syms is a seasoned essayist. Her combination of personal anecdotes, expository investigation, and academic analysis is enigmatic, drawing the reader into the purpose of her writing and the rich storytelling of her written voice.
Born in Los Angeles and based in Chicago, Syms received an MFA in Film, Video, and New Media at the School of the Art Institute in 2007. Syms is the founder and co-director of Golden Age, an artist-run project space, performance venue, and bookshop. Rather than merely sell zines, books, art, and other ephemera from visual artists and critics, Syms – along with her co-director Marco Kane Braunschweiler – uses the space to engage a diverse community of design and art fans and practitioners.
Focusing on race, context, and form in Black cinema, Implications and Distinctions: Format, Content and Context in Contemporary Race Film works in large part due to the simplicity of its words and the depth of its subject matter. Syms’ idea — that race film is both constantly evolving and utilizing methods of exposure implemented decades earlier — is complex, but the clarity in her thesis makes her work digestible.
"My family, my background ... it just parallels really nicely with a lot of social and cultural movements," Syms said during a recent interview. Her writing reflects this connection, using personal anecdotes to highlight the evolution of "race" film from its earliest producers to the more homegrown, independent, and online efforts of emerging filmmakers.
Implications and Distinctions is one of five recent releases from Future Plan and Program, artist Steffani Jemison’s new project incubated by Project Row Houses that publishes the literary works of emerging visual artists. The clean layout and production of the book only slightly masks its purpose to present one-of-a-kind ideas and experiments combining the written word and emerging artistic practices.
Recently, I met with Martine Syms to talk about some of the points she makes in the book...