Nora Al-Badri

Robo Polke

2018, acrylic on canvas 65 x 50 cm, video

A human-robot commentary on machine-non-creativity citing Sigmar Polkes famous painting “Höhere Wesen befahlen: rechte obere Ecke schwarz malen!”. A parody on the robots in art hype. In collaboration with Jan Nikolai Nelles.



2018, chatbot installation

The chatbot is dreaming of museums: With its neuronal AI capabilities it can be described as a voice of the subaltern taking on an agency for objects, opposing the dominant narrative as well as experimenting towards post-authorship through machine intelligence in curatorial practice. After all the bot can be a  self-learning system, an interface and maybe an entity which can be held accountable.

NefertitiBot seeks to take over the power of interpretational sovereignty from administrative and curatorial museums structures. A bot through which material objects of other cultures in museums of the Global North will start speaking for themselves shaking off the violent colonial patina by deconstructing the fiction inherent in institutional narratives and challenging the politics of representation. As soon as objects - of entangled and disputed collections - start speaking for themselves, and machines will transcend biases it might affect us in the marrow of our bones…

The work is by Jan Nikolai Nelles and Nora Al-Badri.


Fossil Futures

2017-ongoing, data, bone replica, video

We were commissioned by the community of Tendaguru in Southern Tanzania to initiate a re-centering, a reclaiming of territories, where over 100 years back German and British colonizers extracted 230 tons of dinosaur bones and put them in European museums. Almost no one is aware of that fact and the dinosaurs are the centrepieces of the German Natural History Museum in Berlin. This area today in Tanzania is still a disputed territory, where land grabbing by multinationals and severe displacement of the population started taking place only recently. Just another colonial continuity. Yet the site and the dinosaur bones are regarded as sacred heritage by the community. The decolonized museum in the Tanzanian forest is an investigative and indigenous narration and re-imagining of a museum. We’re using technology amidst nature, anticipating possible non-anthropocentric futures for non-invasive and multi-sensory experiences. It is about creating new platforms of representation of the subaltern and making places of origin visible.

Project together with Jan Nikolai Nelles and was kindly supported by Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW).

For more information and background have a look at our research videos:



2017, 3D print and evolutionary algorithm

The dinosaur data of the bones is the subject of exploration with an evolutionary algorithm (while the algorithm is based on the physicality of bone structures – it is called generative design). Asking a generative design AI to complete parts of the skeleton. Since not one skeleton was found with 100% of the bones ever, the paleontologists always needed artists such as painters or sculptors to complete the skeletons for the museum display. For this specific skeleton - one of the biggest dinosaur skeletons ever found - the Brachiosaurus Brancai from Tanzania around 30% of the Brachiosaurus skeleton parts were never found during the excavation. In the history of dinosaur depiction, being painted or erected in the museums is a lot human creativity involved which brought dinosaurs back to an imaginary life. And they seem to be one of the most powerful icons in pop culture to attract people (hence they are used as center pieces for natural history museums, but also in technology as „default/modelobjects“ showing what a technology is able to do). With the piece the artists are investigating human vs. artificial creativity as well as scientific truth about the authenticity of the incomplete dinosaur skeletons.

Together with Jan Nikolai Nelles.


The Other Nefertiti

2015, intervention, 3D print, video 17 min

We scanned the head of Nefertiti clandestinely in the Neues Museum Berlin without permission of the Museum by using a portable scanner - a hacked Kinect. The data of the Nefertiti was existing for seven years,but never publicly released by the Neues Museum. The data (STL filewith 100 MB and a density of 9mil polygons) was released during the Chaos Computer Congress 32C3 and the video of the secret scanning went viral with 100K views. The dataset was downloaded and shared countless times.


Remixes from the web

At this link you will find a torrent to access the dataset under a publicdomain:


We also went to Cairo and produced a video that stages the situation that a second bust of Nefertiti would have been found as a matter offact. The possibility of such a find isn’t completely unlikely, because itcan be assumed that the sculptor had created several busts. In order to create certain impact with this narrative we got consulted by Dr. Monica Hanna, Egypt’s most renowned Egyptologist when it comes to fight against illicit trade of antiquities. She advised us how to stage a realistic find of an artefact in a real ancient site in Egypt. It was she who published the video for the first time on Twitter asking the question: What IF another head of Nefertiti head would have been found? That created a vivid debate.

As a next step we 3D printed a version of the data and exhibited the 3D printed bust in Cairo, as an analogue embodiment, which contains physically all information and details of the original form. Nefertiti was thus shown for the first time in Egypt. The object was not a strict copy as a perfectly painted replica, which only mimics the original, but it showed a cultural storage, which doesn’t try to conceal its’ origin as a technical reproduction but embraces the value of the inherent information.


Installation view Cairo Off-Biennale December 2015


After the exhibition our artistic undertaking was an open end: we buried the 3D print in the desert in the outskirts of Cairo as a counter-act to the excavation. We delivered it back to the desert as a space, but the coordinates won’t be revealed.


„The burial points towards this futurity. The artefact is going to be de- livered to the desert as an Utopos. The bust is passed on to a bigger temporality as a poetic counter-act to the excavation. The place isloaded with the possibility of a rediscovery in an undefined future. Withthe data leak as a part of this counter narrative within our investigative practice we want to activate the artefact, to inspire a critical re-as- sessment of today’s conditions and to overcome the colonial notion of possession in Germany‘s museums. With regard to the notion of be- longing and possession of material objects of other cultures, the artists intention is to make cultural objects publicly accessible and to promo- te a contemporary and critical approach on how the “Global North“ deals with heritage and the representation of “the Other”. We should tell stories of entanglement and Nefertiti is a great case to start with to tell stories from very different angles and to see how they intertwine.“ (Excerpt from our press release)

Disentangled N°1.jpg


2017, Ditone print framed 100 x 82 cm, edition of three

We Refugees2.jpg

We Refugees

2015, 100+ C-Prints, various sizes

We Refugees gathered photographic fragments of individual escape stories whose paths cross in Berlin. The title of the exhibition is based on the eponymous essay by Hannah Arendt in 1943. Therein refugees are referred to as the “vanguard of their peoples”. Photographs that have been brought by refugees or have been taken during the escape, have been arranged by the artists to a narrative. The people who are still living were anonymized in the photographs and visual overlays were made. The faces we can look at because they are not anonymous, belong to dead people. “We Refugees“ was realized with: Ajmal, Ali, Amer, Daniel, Hassan, Husam, Mohamed, Muhammad, Noor, Omar, Rami and Rawia. In collaboration with Jan Nikolai Nelles.

“Al-Badri and Nelles sought to use their photo project to produce an image of refugees that countered those most seen on the internet, TV, or in print media. For refugees are most often seen in such places aspart of an unmanageable flow of people, or as representing very dramatic individual fates. The exhibition sought to focus on the idea of the refugees as producers of images. (...) In this way the issue of identity, insofar as it is directly connected to facial recognition, was thematized as a formal absence, visually and metaphorically overwritten by the background. These images give rise to a number of questions about creation, distribution, material and economic conditions, the act ofidentification, and relationships between power and powerlessness.“ Prof. Ilka Becker, University of Braunschweig



2014, bronze, 65 cm

The memorial for the date fruit refers to the war situation in Iraq and it
is dedicated for all the palm trees, which were destroyed in the past decades through war. Iraq experienced an environmental disaster with the soil being contaminated for millennia through uranium-depleted ammunition. Before the destruction, Iraq used to be the biggest exporter of dates in the world and it was certainly part of the Iraqi identity. For the diaspora the date was one of the few things, which were available outside the country. The date palm (phoenix dactylifera) originates from Mesopotamia and it takes years until a palm carries fruits.



2014, bronze, edition of 5

Piece of bread in bronze. Brotlose Kunst.


Nuda Veritas

2013, 3 photographs wooden frames, Cairo

Three photographs of German wheatfields. The the work “Nuda Veritas” (ar: " الحقيقة العارية") evolved in the night before the 30th June 2013 when one of the largest peaceful protests was mobilized in Egypt and subsequently former president Mursi was forced to step down. By mounting the three images the artists planted a medial representation in the city space. The work remained on these walls for more than two years. The mural was done on 28th of June in collaboration with the Egyptian artists Ammar Abo Bakr, Alaa Abd El Hamid and Sameh Ismael Tawfik. The intervention was in Downtown at Qasr Al Nil around 200m away from Tahrir square. On the 30th masses were passing the street.

Together with Jan Nikolai Nelles.



Dying a Second Death

2013, video

Two channel video installation loop. Natural History Museum Cairo, Egypt.

Together with Jan Nikolai Nelles.


Small rewards

2014, C-prints, 12 motifs, various sizes

Small Rewards zeigt den absurden Versuch, Waffen mit Waffen zu zerstören, während die Maschinerie der Waffenproduktion an anderen Orten der Welt unablässig weiterläuft. Die kontrollierten Explosionen werden aus sicherer Distanz in der Einöde gezündet und verwandeln diese für wenige Momente in einen Ort des Spektakels. Die Munition und die Waffen werden weitläufig versprengt. „Small Rewards Programm“ der USA ist ein Aufruf an die Bevölkerung in Post-Konflikt Gebieten wie dem Irak oder Afghanistan ihre Waffen gegen Bezahlung und ohne Strafe abzugeben. Die Serie verdeutlicht einen Zyklus, der niemals aufzuhören scheint und der Fragen nach der Ökonomie des Krieges aufzuwerfen versucht. Die ursprünglichen Bilder stammen aus Original-Footage von Soldaten, das von der Künstlerin digital weiter verarbeitet wurde.


Greetings From Iraq

2012, Postcards (10,5 x 14,8 cm), 10 motifs, edition of 200

They are not the top ten sights in Iraq. Just a small part, which is reserved to combatants and unfortunate residents. The postcards show motifs based on snapshots from American soldiers, which were processed and finished as postcard pictures.

Places like Babylon, Bagdad or Ur accommodate historical treasures of human history. Now they serve as places of idleness of the soldiers. Up-to-date pictures are almost only available through the military context. The places are built by the Sumerian, but also by Saddam Hussein himself. Hurt or destroyed in many wars.

The Iraqi Diaspora is one of the biggest in the world, but without danger of life they can't visit their homeland or the second generation discover the country of their ancestors.


Living Equestrian Statues

2013, C-Prints, various sizes

The work deals with the historical role models and the representation of power through equestrian statues: The photographic series recreates nine well-known statues. Equestrian and horse are posing at the split of a second the exact pose of the original model. The images are about rulers like Kaiser Wilhelm I, Felipe IV (the first rearing statue), or Jeanne D’Arc. Also early and influential statues like Marc Aurel or drawings by Leonardo Da Vinci are included. The artists replaced the rulers...

Together with Jan Nikolai Nelles.



2011, C-print

Objet Trouvé found in the ruins of the abandoned Iraqi embassy to the former DDR in East Berlin. The artist added text referring to the city of Samarra as a fantastic death world. The picture shows the 'Golden Mosque' in Samarra. A conflictual place in Iraq: in 2006 and 2007 parts of the mosque had been severely destroyed in bomb attacks. The Al-Askari Shrine is one of the most important sacred sites for Shias.