NADA Curated by Catherine Taft

Talal Al Najjar, Petro-Ghareebo, 2022
High definition video, color, sound
Edition of 5 + 1 Artist Proof

The Arab Gulf is a case study for state-implemented future-now projects: An uncanny collapse of time and coexistence between tribal conservatism, and robust technological and economic progressiveness. It is hyper-technological, hyper-capitalist, hyper-collectivist, and hyper-real. Regional aesthetics and credo are notoriously futurist while simultaneously readapting traditionalist aspects of culture, life, and religion, to the ever-evolving project that is the Gulf. How may we inhabit a critical counter-futurist lens in the face of sprawling futurity?

Situated in the Gulf, shot in Dubai, Sharjah (Fossil Rock), and Hatta from a seemingly alien surveillance lens, in "Petro-Ghareebo": subjects, objects and environments are decontextualized and defamiliarized. A desert cowboy rummaging the dunes for infected tree bark—deformed and mutated—the crude form of Oud (Frankincense), with the Nissan VTC on standby. Fusing various stages of technological lifestyles—nomadic, agricultural, hyper-tech—and material culture, we see goat pens and potential spaceships; spiked forts and ribcages of construction materials; obscured objects oscillate and mutate; land and industry amalgamate; a symbiotic soundscape of Arabian wind instruments and modern trilling anxiety-inducing sounds synthesized to support the erratic imagery and embryonic distortions.

The title is an invented hybridized term consisting of the word petro- meaning ‘relating to petroleum’ and the word ghareebo, deriving from the Arabic word ghareeb, meaning 'strange,' 'weird,"'or 'unfamiliar,' played on the North American word bizarro.



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