Sophia Al-Maria

Beast Type Song
9 June – 27 August 2023

Beast Type Song (2019) is a 38-minute narrative about the treachery of language, woven from diverse texts, lore, music, dance, post-apocalyptic science fiction and apocalyptic reality. A layered text full of references, coded meanings, translations and mistranslations, quotations, scripts and inside jokes, the film is the result of Sophia Al-Maria’s frustration with language, writing and her work as a screenwriter for commercial television. The artist has described the process of making the film as a nasty cough that turned into a deep, beastly roar.

Mixing archival footage and live performances, Beast Type Song brings together a group of dissenting debaters, some long dead and mythologised (Michelle Cliff, Mohamed Choukri, Ghassan Kanafani, Shakespeare’s Caliban) and some contemporary (artist Tosh Basco, actors Elizabeth Peace and Yumna Marwan, Al-Maria herself and the white doves). The narrative is framed by the 1989 poem The Arab Apocalypse by Lebanese artist Etel Adnan. The protagonists move the film forward in non-linear leaps as they examine their colonial legacies and seek, through drawing, movement and music, an unspoken, repaired, and freer state of being. With the acronym BTS Al-Maria refers to the making-of genre, where one can follow a film or TV production behind-the-scenes. It also challenges the viewer to reflect on how our own script is written.

Sophia Al-Maria (b. 1983) is a Qatari-American artist, writer, and filmmaker living and working in London. Her artistic practice is united by a preoccupation with the power of storytelling and myth, and in particular with imagining revisionist histories and alternative futures. Her works on language, imperialism, postcolonial identities, and counter-history combine critical rigour and affective charge as she delves into investigating and dramatising the present. Beast Type Song (2019) is the first part of a trilogy, followed by Tender Point Ruin (2021) and Tiger Strike Red (2022).

The exhibition is supported by the Finnish Heritage Agency.

Screening times

You can schedule your visits according to the screening times. Please note the museum’s opening hours and indicative starting times. You can also start watching in the middle of a screening.

11:00 | 11:38 | 12:16 | 12:54 | 13:32 | 14:10 | 14:48 | 15:26 | 16:04 | 16:42 | 17:20 | 17:58 | 18:36

Courtesy of the artist, Anna Lena Films, Paris and Project Native Informant, London.