Sophia Al-Maria: Virgin With A Memory, Cornerhouse

This September, Cornerhouse presents the first major exhibition by critically acclaimed Qatari-American artist, filmmaker and writer Sophia Al-Maria. Curated by Omar Kholeif, Virgin With A Memory will provide a unique opportunity to see an entire newly commissioned body of work from one of the most exciting voices in the art world today.

Drawing on Al-Maria’s struggle to make her first feature film, Beretta, the show takes cues from behind-the-scenes materials that outline the often insurmountable task of making a film. Using the language of featurettes, deleted scenes, movie tie-ins and other special features,Virgin With A Memory invites audiences to recognise the complex jigsaw of producers, financiers and politics that a filmmaker must engage with in order to produce a significant piece of work today.

Both an homage to cult cinema and a call to arms, Beretta is not only the story of a mute woman pushed to extremes by her environment, but the story of a country that was degraded by its governments, culminating in revolt. The exhibition will also feature four new pseudo-documentary works relating directly to the production of the film.

Class A (2014) is a video-ode to Beretta actress Dina Sherbini who was jailed before filming began; Slaughter (2013) is culled from the first footage shot during the 2012 Eid al Adha (Festival of Sacrifice); Your Sister (2014) is a fake music video collaged by the film’s art-department to play on a background television in Beretta, and finally, Evil Eye (2014), a direct response to the farcical issues faced during the seemingly-cursed development stage of making Beretta.

Virgin With A Memory: The Exhibition Tie-In is the novelised version of the script for Beretta. This element of the exhibition is predicated on Al-Maria’s idea that in today’s challenging environment for independent cinema, the only way to achieve an unadulterated director’s cut of any film is to write it as a novel version, making it one’s own property.Published by Cornerhouse and The Third Line, Virgin With A Memory: The Exhibition Tie-In is available on display as part of the exhibition and on sale in the Cornerhouse bookshop.

Virgin With A Memory 6 September – 2 November, Cornerhouse, 70 Oxford St, Manchester M1 5NH. For more information visit

1. Sophia Al-Maria, The Watchers(2014. Courtesy and copyright the artist Sophia Al-Maria.

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