In a recent interview with Bidoun Creative Director Babak Radboy, Senegal-born, Kuwait-raised artist Fatima Al Qadiri considers the impact of Western consumerism on the city she grew up in. I’m interested in the ways in which communities adopt and adapt technologies to suit their own needs, thus forming new, unexpected audiences-cum-markets within a user base whose demographic isn’t likely imagined to be … well, selling dried fruit to the Internet.
There’s a room full of angel investors—not to mention, a team of social anthropologists hired to research for them—sitting in San Francisco right now, simply dying to speak with Fatima Al Qadiri’s grandmother. This, I am certain of. Consumer economy, full-circle.
From "Sound of the Ghost Raid" in Mousse No. 39:
Babak Radboy: Kuwait is a crazy mix: a super-affluent country, yet basically a welfare state, though with a super neo-liberal consumer economy.
Fatima Al Qadiri: We consume vast amounts of everything. Instagram businesses are a big thing in Kuwait.
BR: What’s an Instagram business?
FQ: If you have an Instagram account, you can slap a price tag on anything, take a picture of it, and sell it. For instance, you could take this can of San Pellegrino, paint it pink, put a heart on it, call it yours, and declare it for sale. Even my grandmother has an Instagram business! She sells dried fruit. A friend’s cousin is selling weird potted plants that use Astroturf. People are creating, you know, hacked products.