Art in the time of Covid-19
March 17 2020 08:53 PM
Mohamed Faraj al-Suwadi
Mohamed Faraj al-Suwadi

Art becomes a strong medium that can be used to address important topics such as efforts to fight the spread of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) and create a sense of public awareness, Qatari artist Mohamed Faraj al-Suwadi has told Gulf Times.

“Self-isolation has been a common approach for avoiding the spread of Covid-19 – as a result, this would give artists the opportunity to develop their works,” said al-Suwaidi, who is also a designer, animator and architect with a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from Plymouth University and a Master in Architecture from the University of Liverpool.

The artist was selected for Qatar Museum’s (QM) three-month Artist-in-residence programme at the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) in Manhattan, New York last year, which is the second extension of the programme in Doha after Paris.

The QM programme, designed to nurture the next generation of artistic talent in Qatar, aims to provide talented individuals in the country with studio accommodation space and the chance to be fully immersed in the US city’s art and culture scene.

“I am currently working on a series of digital images that explore this topic (efforts to fight the spread of Covid-19) – hopefully I will be able to share those with the public in the near future,” said al-Suwaidi. He was in residence at the Fire Station in 2018-2019.

Qatar has intensified its efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19 as the government announced several measures recently.

Besides contact-tracing and providing suitable care for Covid-19 cases who are under complete isolation, Qatar is also stopping in-bound flights from today (March 18) for two weeks, suspending public transport services, and giving QR75bn financial incentives to support the private sector.

“I feel very confident that Qatar will overcome these kinds of challenges in the near future. We will have to hope for the best,” said al-Suwaidi, who exhibited a series of installations he created using digital technology at the Doha Fire Station early this year.

The exhibition, titled “Digital Transactions”, underlined the artist’s experience during the residency programme in New York, featuring a series of digital prints composed of scenes captured around New York and altered using 3D software in a repetitive manner. These scenes are digitized into virtual immersive spaces that the viewer can be part of.

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