“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.

Foreign Architecture/Domestic Policy Publication. Publication soon to be published by Humboldt Books.

Installation view.

Installation view.

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