QMA is challenging you to think differently. So do.
- Shabeb Al Rumaihi
- On October 15, 2013
JustHere contributor Shabeb Al Rumaihi visits the various exhibitions around town, and urges people to go beyond religious and political rhetoric, and challenges them to think differently.
Qatar Museums Authority has flooded the city with art, from exhibitions in Museum of Islamic Art and Mathaf, to galleries in Katara and even on the streets. Art is every where, in your face… and QMA is challenging you. To think. To appreciate. Even to disagree, if that’s how you feel.
But for a society to evolve and develop, free expression is a must. It is rational to be concerned about how foreign artists have had a better propaganda than the local ones, but we need international Qatari artists in order to give them the same level of attention.
Going back to the current exhibitions, of course conservatives were upset as usual about how provocative these exhibitions are; many people took it so personally, they started maligning the artists, accusing them of atheism and crass materialism (gold diggers, even).
To truly understand the art and the artists, one must visit the exhibitions. Not wax eloquent on social media forums alone.
Hirst’s Relics exhibition could be the most provocative one, it attracted a lot of criticism. The advertisements on the streets were quite bold: “It’s not just a diamond skull” or “it’s not just a shark in a tank” (in Arabic and English) the giant posters stated, urging people to come and judge for themselves and learn more about the art work of Hirst. A far better option than listening to radical, and often uninformed, opinions about art.
Maybe it is just a diamond skull or a large shark in the tank, but the minute you go in and read about each piece, it will all make sense or at least give you an insight into the artist’s inspiration and intent.
QMA is trying to raise the standards of artistic taste in our society; more importantly they’re trying to challenge our cosmopolitan society to appreciate art in its different forms. It might be a tough challenge as art is not given due merit in primary and secondary education in Qatar, as I had written some months ago.
And not with what is considered provocative alone. Last Tuesday, Hajj: The Journey Through Art, was inaugurated. This should have silenced those who attacked QMA of hosting only secular exhibitions. Hosting these two exhibitions, at the same time, in the same vicinity, is strong evidence that QMA celebrates diversity in art.
To paraphrase a famous author, you have a right to be offended, but not to not be offended.
In the meantime, take a chill pill and take a tour of the galleries this Eid. My favourites are:
Adel Abdessemed’s exhibition The Golden Age at Mathaf.
Museum of Crying Women by Francesco Vezzoli, at Katara.
Hajj: The Journey Through Art at the Museum of Islamic art.
And finally, Damien Hirst’s at Alriwaq exhibition (Right next to the MIA parking).
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