Qatar Museums (QM) is featuring the 'Qatar Contemporary: Art and Photography' exhibition as part of the Qatar Russia 2018 Year of Culture programme. On show at the Manege Central Exhibition Hall in St Petersburg, the show is presented in the framework of VII Saint Petersburg International Cultural Forum.
Organised under the patronage of QM Chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the exhibition will be open from November 19 to December 10. It is supported by the Doha Film Institute and Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar.
The exhibition, which is the largest of its kind from Qatar to be hosted in Russia, is divided in two parts. Building a Vision: Photography from Qatar features over 250 photographs from 60 photographers of 28 different nationalities living in Qatar. It is curated by Dr Giles Hudson and Sheikha Maryam al-Thani. Also displayed are 200 photographic treasures from QM’s historical collections exhibited together for the first time.
The second part of the exhibition dubbed as 'States of Transformation', curated by Dr Bahaa Abudaya, features 100 contemporary works from 46 artists of 13 different nationalities from Qatar’s local art scene. “The exhibition celebrates the past, present and future of Qatar. Our country has undergone massive transformations over the past few years, resulting in a variety of experiences and perspectives,” exhibitions director Sheikha Reem al-Thani said. “We are honoured to bring those stories to audiences in Russia for the first time and look forward to future cultural exchanges between our two countries,” she noted.
The photographic section of the exhibition provides an introduction to the visual landscape of Qatar and showcases the work of contemporary photographers based in the country. Sections are devoted to photographic portraiture, architectural photography and more experimental work.
The interaction of the new and the old, tradition and modernity is seen throughout the exhibits. Formal studies of falconers by Aref al-Ammari, for example, while adopting a contemporary photographic aesthetic, convey a strong sense of cultural belonging.
Shaikha Al-Hardan, meanwhile, finds beauty in Qatar’s abandoned buildings (as photographed under unusual lighting conditions) while Khalid al-Hammad probes the impact of modernist architecture on the shifting identity of the nation. Also exhibited is the work of photographers who took part in the Years of Culture photographic exchanges organised by QM. The Russian photographers include Danila Tkachenko and Zhenya Mironov.
Qataris, for example, Mironov’s project, probes the visual character of Qatar by uncovering the language of objects, decorative motifs and architecture forms specific to the country. The historic photographs include exhibits from both Russia and the wider Middle East. Dating from the birth of photography to the present day, they speak to the importance of the photographic medium as a means of cross-cultural discovery, communication and exchange, as well as to many other themes of contemporary relevance.
The latter part of the exhibition is dedicated to artworks by contemporary Qatari artists, including participants of the Artist in Residence programme. This part examines coexistence between tradition and innovation both in the social and visual traditions of Qatar.
Three thematic sections present over a hundred works by Qatari artists and sculptors such as Maryam al-Semaitt, Hana al-Saadi, Fahad al-Obaidly and Abeer al-Kuwari. Each of them demonstrates a personal interpretation of dynamic changes in the cultural and material life of the country, as well as the views and perceptions of Qatari society. Using varied materials such as cement, steel, wood and glass, artists create a metaphor for the establishment of social structures and the essence of the modern era.
“I’ve no doubt that the works will help to foster cultural dialogue between everyone who sees them – thereby helping achieve the central goal of the Years of Culture programme,” QM's public and international relations director Mohamed al-Othman said.
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