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Fatima al Qadiri: Shaneera
Shaneera is the English mispronunciation of the Arabic word, shanee’a (شنيعة) literally meaning “outrageous, nefarious, hideous, major and foul.”
One iteration of the word, as gay slang used in Kuwait and some Arab countries, a positive and desirable light is shed on these attributes. Shaneera refers to a gender-defying persona (or temporary state or action), of being an evil queen.
You know a Shaneera when you behold one.
Over five energetic club tracks, Al Qadiri explores this dark-sided character with friends Bobo Secret, Lama3an, Chaltham and Naygow in their debut recorded appearance. Chaltham is Khalid al Gharaballi, long-time collaborator of Al Qadiri’s together as a duo and also as members of GCC. Their collaborative work explored Kuwaiti gender performativity, their installation Mendeel Um A7mad (NxIxSxM), featured one of the vocalists, Lama3an, as a lead actor. Lama3an is a Kuwaiti/Iraqi architect who moonlights as an artist and fashion designer. Bobo Secret, the leading vocalist on the record, works in finance but studied TV & Media hence his uncanny ability at projecting an evil femme queen voice. Naygow sings as a hobby but has also requested maximum anonymity for obvious reasons.
The lyrics are sexually suggestive, imploring, shady and loving, some original and some re-recorded material from Grindr chats, online drag and femme comedy skits. The language is a mixture of Kuwaiti and Egyptian Arabic, and one Iraqi proverb, “Everyone’s concern is with their own anus!” Sonically, the record combines Khaleeji (Arab Gulf), Western drum kits and Arabesque melodies.
The cover photography was shot in Kuwait, directed by Fijla Nabeel and was also styled by Khalid al Gharaballi. Al Qadiri appears as Shaneera, her evil extreme femme alter ego. Miles Martinez’ cover design was inspired by stale pop diva record cover imagery from the Arab world.
Conceptually, the EP follows Al Qadiri’s long-term exploration of gender identity and performance in the Gulf. Her natural look, at odds with the colloquial presentation and performance of femininity in the region, is transformed on the cover into a maximum femme look inspired by a mid 2000s Kuwaiti trend of extreme makeup. What would pass at a cursory glance as femme drag was actually the norm at a specific time in Kuwaiti women’s fashion.
Shaneera, the record, lands somewhere in an undisclosed setting and is a love letter to evil and benevolent queens around the world.