Qatar, a thriving hub for creatives
July 06 2022 10:37 PM
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By Haytham Sharrouf
By Haytham Sharrouf

Doha

* Qatar-Menasa 2022 Year of Culture supports regional talent finding their voice in Qatar

Over the past decade, Qatar has cemented its cultural vision by creating a space to explore, build, and understand cultures from around the Middle East and the wider North Africa and Southeast Asia regions.
The Qatar-Menasa (Middle East, North Africa and South Asia) 2022 Year of Culture has been the foundation for a new and important phase in cross-cultural collaboration this year.
The Year of Culture events, presented in Qatar as it welcomes the world as host of the region’s first FIFA World Cup Qatar, celebrate the shared heritage and beauty of the Menasa region.

During what also marks the 10th year anniversary of the Years of Culture initiative, programming will showcase a thoughtful focus on regional narratives told through the eyes of its public.
In a press statement, Aisha Ghanem al-Attiya, director of Cultural Diplomacy at Qatar Museums (QM), said: “The Menasa region is one of the most diverse in the world, giving rise to powerful civilisations, incredible innovations and cultural breakthroughs. This global heritage is our legacy that unites us all. Today it permeates through the creative industries in Qatar and among our neighbours and we want to empower people from the region to share their stories, passion, and progress in their own words.”
Qatar has invested in building an infrastructure that supports creatives throughout their journey, including in cultural hubs like the Fire Station, Liwan and M7, with the purpose of connecting artists, providing them with opportunities, and offering them exposure. Read on to get to know some of the Qatar-grown regional talent and their projects.

* Spotlight on:
Majdulin Nasrallah (Palestinian) is a creative whose work spans a wide range of disciplines. She uses both art and design as tools to challenge current systems and constructs, provoke critical thought, and stimulate discussion. Her work often deals with the dialogue and interactivity between the human body and the built environment, tackling notions of physical space and objects in relation to the human experience through a variety of mediums and scales.
 

Majdulin Nasrallah
Recent work by Nasrallah: 'Balance Bench' is an interactive public artwork that tackles the notion of psychological and physical boundaries on both an individual and social scale. The seat’s unstable and divided form is emblematic of the social, cultural, and political barriers between people.
Visitors activate the seat as they balance it through collective effort. One person cannot sit alone – the seat only balances when four people are interacting and co-operating. Since each person’s movements affect the stability of the other, they all inevitably become aware of the significance of one another’s presence.
Othman Khunji (Bahraini) is an interdisciplinary conceptual artist. His work ranges across the fields of product, and interactive installation design. His areas of interest are social behaviours, triangulating how the relationships between religion, culture, and society can be expressed through the language of design.
 

Othman Khunji
His interactive creations invite a reawakening and exploration of social justice issues that will establish platforms for dialogue in the hope of generating new progressive schools of thought. Othman’s studies include his latest publication, 'Rituals, Our Past, Present & Future: Glimpses of Islamic Enrichment' and its accompanying collection, 'The Five Pillars of Islam', which has been acquired by HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. His work has been showcased in Paris, Milan, Richmond, London, Berlin, St Petersburg and all over the Middle East.
“Qatar brings together people from all backgrounds where they can engage in open dialogue on different social justice issues that my artworks address,” he said.
Hadeer Omar (Egyptian) is a new media artist, designer and educator. Her research explores cultural identity and memories, the self and narratives through immersive XR media and technologies, graphics, photography, A/V performances and video art installations.
 

Hadeer Omar
“In Doha, we’re based on communities that are completely different from each other, but with our very own expectations. Working in Qatar made me feel freer when it comes to what I want to talk about, even how I present my identity. The culture is growing so much here when it comes to the art scene; we’re pioneers; because whatever we’re doing, we’re amalgamating experiences,” Omar said.

* Where one can see them next:

Majaz: Contemporary Art Qatar; September 16 to February 25, 2023; Location: Masrah Almaared, Mathaf; part of Qatar-Menasa 2022 Year of Culture

The Fire Station: Artist in Residence will celebrate young local and regional talent in Majaz: Contemporary Art Qatar, on view from September 16 to February 25, 2023. The Artist in Residence Alumni Exhibition will celebrate five years of the Artist in Residence (AIR) programme at the Fire Station and the flourishing art scene in Qatar.
In January 2021, the Fire Station invited 14 AIR alumni to participate in a six-month-long programme to develop new works for this exhibition. An additional 25 AIR alumni will be featured in the exhibition, where they will showcase works in a variety of disciplines including painting, sculpture, and new media, and explore different perspectives and reflections to unveil personal, cultural, and global concepts.
The works will be displayed in dialogue with each other highlighting elements of storytelling. The exhibition is curated by Saida al-Khulaifi, acting head of Residency Programmes and Amal Zeyad Ali, exhibitions coordinator at the Fire Station.

* Spotlight on:
Maryam al-Majid (Qatari-Indian) comes from a diverse background and mix of two very rich cultures – Qatar and India. From an early age, she has been influenced in many ways by both countries and its values.
 

By Maryam al-Majid

“I come from a diverse background and mix of two very rich cultures – Qatar and India. Since childhood, I was exposed to both cultures and values by my parents and stories passed on to me. I feel the strongest connection to both countries which remain to be a source of inspiration whenever I create,” she said.
Haytham Sharrouf (born in Venezuela and raised in Lebanon) is an interior architect, a graphic designer and an artist. Sharrouf is always looking to explore uncharted territories to produce eccentric and visually challenging art objects that go beyond traditional art practices. He will take part in the Fire Station Artist in Residence alumni exhibition in September.
“I came to Doha because of the Fire Station Artist in Residence programme. Doha inspired me to embark on a new multidisciplinary series of artwork in which I try to capture hidden souls of people, architecture, and the city itself. For me, Doha is enough,” Sharrouf said.

* Where one can see him next
Doha Dreams; started on June 8 and concludes on August 31; Location: M7
On view as part of the Doha Dreams pop-up presented at the conclusion of M7’s Zwara Programme, which is a yearly programme that invites creatives from various design disciplines to explore exhibitions, archives and collection and then respond to a design brief.
The selected designers were tasked to reimagine luxury and aesthetics through the lens of a local contemporary designer inspired by the recently held 'Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams' exhibition.
As an artist as well as an architect, Haytham was inspired by the light and spiritual experience of the floral environment that the 'Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams'. 'The Butterfly: Cocoon of Life - Art Installation' is the perfect combination of a skirt and a headpiece designed to create artefacts that can illuminate natural experiences, in this case butterflies being attracted to the floral garden of Dior.
Like Dior, designer Maryam al-Majid was inspired by her own life and history when she created 'Sparrow of the Sea'. Al-Majid’s diverse background and mix of two very rich cultures - Qatar and India are reflected in her displayed jewellery design. Within her designed chocker, the wings of the golden sparrow represent India, while the pearls recall Qatar, creating a piece that is both beautiful and deeply meaningful.

Last updated: July 06 2022 10:39 PM


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