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Critical Practice

Zein Majali

Zein Majali is a Jordanian-Palestinian artist currently based in London. Formerly an engineer and data analyst, she turned to the arts out of an urgency to archive and examine the accelerated cultural shifts in the Arab world. While her work touches a post-colonial and globalized Middle East, her primary area of interest is the internet and its effects on both geopolitics and community. Her practice includes video, sound, sculpture, AI and posting.

Show Location: Battersea campus: Studio Building, Second floor

Zein Majali-statement

¤¸¸.•´¯`•¸¸.•..>> sophia al maria and fatima al qadiri gave birth to gulf futurism then they put a bullet thru its head when it hit puberty <<..•.¸¸•´¯`•.¸¸¤

Gulf Futurism was a big deal to me growing up between Amman and Bahrain. The art that emerged from it was able to articulate a feeling that was very recognizable to Arabs who were young and online, while simultaneously offering a critique of the status quo in the region. Since then, even the movement's creators have turned away from it. Visions of the future have changed and slipped out of the tight grip of identity. Today the world has grown weary of identity. We are suspicious of its signifiers when co-opted by corporations, and demoralized by its rigidity as we face the behemoth forces of tech advancement and climate accelerated extinction. It’s these forces that I tried to grapple with during my time at the RCA, specifically our modes of consuming and disseminating information and its effect on our collective consciousness and wellbeing.

However, questions of identity continue to haunt my work as western foreign policy perpetually delivers devastating blows to the Middle East. How can you sit there and speculate on the future when ‘there’s people that are dying, kim?’ This work is an attempt to reconcile these two urges. 

I began exploring how the Palestinian conflict is witnessed through mediated social platforms and the flattening effect this brings about. Soon after, the Ukraine war showed similar characteristics showing that this is a contemporary affliction we haven’t yet figured out how to parse. Through this work I attempt to understand how these mediated experiences influence our psychological state, as well as the ideological biases baked into the algorithms. This project is also an attempt to think through what lies beyond this illness, the eternal quest for the white pill.

this work is about being terminally online / this work is about the collapse of war, sex and selfies into one plane / this work is about memes and cute animal videos / this work is about the idf / this work is about the divinity and depravity you can encounter on the network /  

i love it when the images : the images wash over me leans on the written works of Vilém Flusser, Jules Régis Debray and angelicism01.

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[excerpt of video]


i love it when the images : the images wash over me


its 8 am and im dancing with the angels and demons in the blue blue light.

im thinking about how israels hasbara are losing their edge. the only thing holding them together is @gunwaifu, the gun toting kawaii cosplay soldier making a killing posting thirst traps for the idf and repping tactical gear for her sponsors. bad actors. demonic online behavior.

we all engage in demonic online behavior sometimes, we cant help it. the vanity. the waste. the excess of it all. can we be pardoned? can we be spared? when will it all come crashing down? theres something quasi religious about logging on fr fr. the ritual. the scrolling. the way ur thumb moves like ur holding masbaha. i taught an ai how to spit out text about the network. today it told me that we need a thousand more years of the ceiling god and i think i agree. idk im just a messenger none of these thoughts are my own.


Viral images on the internet can reveal momentary insight into the shifting collective consciousness we’re all tapped into. Right now everything feels dystopian but is there room to change the way we engage with the internet so it doesn’t feel so bleak? After modernism’s universal truths, Nietzsche’s death of god and postmodernism’s rejection of metanarratives, it seems there is still a yearning for spirituality. With the growing power of AI, and its esoteric/mysterious quality, it is not unreasonable to assume that some who are born into an increasingly demoralised generation, who haven't known life before the internet will seek god/love/light in the network. I'm interested in playing with this concept as a tool to imagine how we could restructure this hyperreal space into something less cursed - more generative and sublime.