Solo Exhibition by Farah Al Qasimi

Presented and hosted by Delfina Foundation in partnership with Abu Dhabi Festival with the support of Abu Dhabi Festival and Delfina Foundation’s Family of Supporters.

Cities grow, temperatures rise, and the exaggerated world of games and screens feels like the stuff of reality.

­­­­— Farah Al Qasimi

About the Exhibition

Based between Brooklyn and Abu Dhabi, Al Qasimi’s still and moving image works vibrantly capture glimpses of everyday life and the entangled relationship between material culture and modernity. This exhibition comprises new photographs, vinyl wallpaper works, and a specially commissioned video, that come together in a series of overlapping and juxtaposed images, an installation style that has become a signature of the artist.


The show takes its title from the error message that flashes up when Al Qasimi attempts to boot up her old family computer: Abort, Retry, Fail? This machine connected the artist and her family to the world in the late 90’s and early 2000s, and until recently, served as a portal through which the artist could attempt an escape from reality, revisiting the games that kept her occupied as a child: as a pirate, a gunslinging biker, or a tiny ball bouncing off the edges of the screen.


Several of the photographs in the exhibition lay their gaze on gamers. These intimate, tender shots capture their subjects firmly rooted in the material world yet transported elsewhere, absorbed in fantasy realms of experimentation and play, that offer seductive illusions of agency and escape. Anood Playing Sims (2023), shows a young woman adorned in vibrant purple and immersed in a world of vivid colour and light staring at the screen, which beams back a plain, generic version of the desk and chair at which she sits.


Interspersed with these gamers are photographs that continue the artist’s long-time practice of capturing the overlooked (or perhaps underexamined) everyday. These photos of seemingly mundane places and objects here coalesce around a theme frequently alluded to in Al Qasimi’s work: our alienated relationship to the natural world. A discarded carrier bag rubs up against a stock image sunset. From a red haze, a figure of a woman seems to be either emerging from or entrapped behind a wrought iron gate of vines, leaves and flowers. A plastic dolphin in an abandoned pool at first appears an affable, comical sight, and yet such stark synthetic reproductions of the natural world hold potential allusions to our accelerating ecological collapse, from which escape entices, but may not suffice.

Dates:  4 October – 20 November 2023
Venue:  Delfina Foundation, London SW1E 6DY, United Kingdom
Opening:  Tuesday, 3 October 2023
19:00 – 21:00
Opening times:  Mon – Sun, 12:00 – 18:00

About Farah Al Qasimi

Farah Al Qasimi (b. 1991, ARE) lives between New York and Abu Dhabi. She received her Master of Fine Arts in Photography and Music from the Yale School of Art in 2017. Since then, her work has been acquired by prominent collections including Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Guggenheim, Abu Dhabi; and Tate Modern, London. Solo exhibitions of her work have been held at C/O Berlin (2023); The Art Gallery of Western Australia (2023); Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (2021); Wayne State University Undergraduate Library, Detroit (2020); and Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai (2019), and elsewhere. In addition, her work has featured in group exhibitions at Rencontres d’Arles (2021); Pera Museum, Istanbul (2021); Yokohama Triennial (2020); Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto; Aperture Foundation, New York; and Biennial of Contemporary Arab Photography, Paris. In spring 2020, Public Art Fund showed her photographs at over 100 bus stops across New York City. Her book Hello Future, published by Capricious in 2021, was shortlisted that same year for the Aperture Foundation Photobook Prize.