Róisín Tapponi at Frieze:
In the gulf, thirst is a paradigm: it is impossible to think about the desert without thinking about water. The Arabian Desert is also a peninsula, with countries formed from both deserts and ports. I propose thirst trap theory – derived from the slang for a selfie used to elicit an exchange between sexual bodies – as a way of reading this relation between desert and surrounding water, between drought and abundance, in cinema from the Gulf. Ranging from narrative cinema to experimental video, these films are as diverse – and extreme – as the landscape that inspired them.
Using deep time and sweltering geological dreamscapes, Sophia Al Maria’s experimental videos The Future Was Desert I and II (both 2016) explore the political relations between nation states through the imaging of natural resources. We see sublime shots of oil, water and fire exploding across regional landscapes, taken from various scientific, colonial and geographical archives.