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FOREIGN ARCHITECTURE/DOMESTIC POLICY

“Kuwait owns and manages approximately five thousand gas stations across Europe. Under the not-so-subtle company name ‘Q8’, these stations began as an investment to secure a market for the country’s oil export, but their role continued to grow as they became a key player in funding and lobbying against the occupation of Kuwait prior to the Gulf War. Q8 is not simply a series of serving stations across the European landscape, but a road map for the nation’s political and economic autonomy.

For a country of less than a million people in 1973 which was exporting 10% of the world’s oil, the narrative of state is inextricably tied to the projections of wealth and identity outwards. The adoption of Q8 as a brand provided the perfect balance of corporate neutrality and nationalistic projection, a way of selling Kuwait without risking hostility or suspicion in light of a post-OPEC crisis world. Although the vision was always that of a politically neutral branding of Kuwait, during the first Gulf War however, the stations were called to play a political role for the first time, acting as a source of funding for protests and lobbying movements for the liberation of the country. The stations then no longer remained nameless moments in a nebulous petro-landscape but in effect mini-embassies for the Gulf state: an extended architectural network of way stations manned by citizens-by-employment that had a vested interest in Kuwait/Q8’s stability. The design of Q8 is an exercise in imagining a different citizenry, taking what is often perceived as generic infrastructure and using it to create an economic and political co-dependency in service of state-oriented longevity.” — Civil Architecture


Publication, poster, visual identity and vinyl for CIVIL’s show at Sultan Gallery in Kuwait.

Exhibition view, neon sign designed by CIVIL.

Installation view.

Installation view.

Lettering for the show.

Lettering for the show.


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