Fatima Al Qadiri, born in Dakar, Senegal and raised in Kuwait, is a New York-based performance and conceptual artist and composer whose work pivots around the politicized axes of gender, consumerism, military action, and religion.
Al Qadiri’s Desert Strike EP, released via L.A. label Fade to Mind in 2012, builds off the virtual and real-world realities of her experience of the Iraq-Kuwait War and subsequent Gulf War in the 1980s. The barrage of aerial bombings and oil fires on her home city kept she and her sister out of school and inside during this period, engineering their own attacks on civilian and military targets via the Sega Megadrive Desert Strike video game, based on Operation Desert Storm. In Al Qadiri’s own words, “This EP of original works is dedicated to the synthesis of terror and child-like wonder, to the strategies of imagination and gaming, while sonically paying homage to the militaristic futurism of early grime.” Tracks like “Ghost Raid”, named for 'The Ghost' F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter, and “Oil Well” reference instruments of war and the economic incentives driving military action and feature the sounds of toy drones and air raid sirens.
The five suites of Al Qadiri’s debut EP, Genre-Specific Xperience (UNO, 2011), each refer to five discursive subgenres of dance music: juke, hip hop, dubstep, electro-tropicalia, and 90s Gregorian trance. For the release, Al Qadiri joined up with artists Kamau Patton, Tabor Robak, Leilah Weinraub, Sophia Al-Maria, Ryan Trecartin and Rhett LaRue to create corresponding music videos, which premiered at New York’s New Museum. The tracks were remixed by Girl Unit, DJ Rashad, Dutch E Germ, Dubbel Dutch, Nguzunguzu, and Ikonika for a separate release on UNO Records in 2012.
Al Qadiri’s solo work as Ayshay (meaning "whatever" in Arabic) reinterprets religious Muslim acapella music. Warn-U was released via Tri Angle Records in 2011. Her most recent musical venture, Future Brown, is a collaboration with Asma Maroof and Daniel Pineda of Nguzunguzu and J-Cush of Lit City Trax. The production team has released two official tracks thus far – “Wanna Party”, featuring Tink, and “World’s Mine”, which salutes the collective’s roots in UK grime and features ex-Roll Deep member Roachee, Dirty Danger of Ruff Sqwad, and Prince Rapid, and is currently completing work on their debut LP, which will feature Tink, Shawnna, 3D Na’tee, Maluca, Riko Dan, Ian Isiah and Kelela, with more names to be announced.
Al Qadiri composed the soundtrack for the film Banana, written and directed by Meqdad Al Kout and recognized with the Special Jury Award at the Gulf Film Festival in 2009, and she has also composed scores for designer Telfar Clemens’ ready-to-wear collections since 2007.
The exhibition of her visual work includes a series of photographs taken in 1997 that depict a young girl performing fictional male identities (2008), and 2009’s “Qasr Al Salam Series” of prints showing the Iraqi army’s occupation of Kuwait’s Palace of Peace. She has participated in group exhibitions with visual artists such as Khalid Al Gharaballi, Lauren Boyle, Lyndsy Welgos, and the collective K48 Kontinuum, presented at Art Basel Miami, London’s Tate Modern, MoMA PS1 in Queens, New York, the Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, Qatar, and the Marrakech Biennale in Morocco, among others. She has also curated a number of exhibitions.
In 2011, Al Qadiri received a visual arts grant from the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture. She has served as a contributing editor at DIS magazine and contributor to Bidoun magazine, SPIN, the New York Times, the Guardian, FACT, Pitchfork, Electronic Beats, Paper Magazine, and the Kuwait Times, among numerous other publications.