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JustHere | November 15, 2017

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As the sun goes down on Katara Art Centre, one less platform remains for local artists

As the sun goes down on Katara Art Centre, one less platform remains for local artists

Katara Art Center (KAC), one of Qatar’s foremost independent art platforms, will shut down on June 30 this year due to the lack of financial support and the reallocation of their space at Katara for other ventures.

The Center, which has been an avid supporter and host of various contemporary art forms and local, regional and international artists, was opened in mid-2012 by founder Tariq Al Jaidah. Since then, it has been one of the few venues which has invited members of the Qatar community to create, participate and learn about different art forms through events, workshops, talks, pop-up shops and exhibitions. It also has a bookstore which stocks a number of titles on art, design, culture as well as books for kids. Katara Art Center

In an earlier conversation with JustHere, Artistic Director and Curator of KAC, Mayssa Fattouh told JustHere “Community engagement is one of our primary aims, we engage with different communities and encourage the public to ask questions and propose ideas. We want the Qataris and other nationalities to feel that they have ownership in this center.” As KAC gets ready to shut down, it will be yet another place that residents of Qatar will remember, just like many other such events. This is especially true for local artists who find it hard to showcase their work in the other galleries around Qatar for both financial as well as procedural reasons.

KAC has held over 120 events since it opened doors and has worked with over 60 artists and was the only one which invited local artists to display their work at the center’s premises in Katara Cultural Village’s Building 5. JustHere revisits the top 10 events and activities that KAC has organised over its two-year lifespan, many of which were introduced to Qatar for the first time.

  1. Mastaba: Conversations on Art
    ‘Mastaba’ means platform in English. This was a monthly themed event, which invited all art enthusiasts around Qatar to participate in a discussion around different topics in art in both English and Arabic. Some of the themes have included the state of the Doha art scene, the relation between art and performance, multicultural collaborations and others.
  1. Pop-up Shops
    Doha never had pop-up shops before KAC brought them into the picture. Starting with the Beirut Design Pop-Up Shop in 2012, the dXb Store Pop-Up Shop in summer 2013, Kuwait City Pop-Up, the Amrapali Jewels Pop-Up Shop and the currently running Amman Design Pop-Up Shop. These pop-up shops brought a number of interesting arts and crafts created by a number of designers and artists from around the Arab region for sale at the KAC.
  1. Reading, Writing and Storytelling
    • The Writing Exchange
      This workshop which took place every Saturday for a few months was an interactive and engaging workshop for those interested in the craft of writing. Led by Doha-based writer Bob Marcacci, this encouraged people to bring their pens and ideas to the exchange to explore their inner creative writers.
    • Storytelling and Arts & Crafts workshops for kids in association with Maktaba Children’s Library in Doha (in English and Arabic)
    • The Spanish Family Reading Circle for families and little kids,which would involve them reading a selection of kids’ books in Spanish.
    • Poetry & Storytelling Workshops
      This event, which used to be held on the first Tuesday of every month last year, was an event with a fluid theme. This event encouraged all readers, storytellers, poets, writers and those interested in these activities to bring their favourite pieces of writing in all languages to be read at this event.
  1. Pecha Kucha Nights
    The international Pecha Kucha phenomenon was brought to Doha by the KAC. PechaKucha 20×20 is an event where 20 images are shown for 20 seconds each, while the images move forward automatically as the presenter talks along to the images. KAC organized two of the eight Pecha Kucha nights in Doha at their premises.
  1. Artist mentoring and development:
    • The Portfolio Workshop
      This free skill-building workshop was organized to help artists to understand how to assemble a portfolio as well as how to develop one that is audience-specific.
    • Artist Mentorship Program by Rima Kaddissi
      As a follow up to its Mastaba: Conversations on Art sessions, KAC organized the Artist Mentorship Program for artists as an opportunity to converse with arts consultant and mentor, Rima Kaddissi. Through group and private sessions, artists could develop their understanding of art processes through exercises and presentations.
  1. Exhibitions by local and international artists such as Max Eastley, Rhys Himsworth, Ben Barbour, Brazilian photographer Caio Vilela, Mohamed Abou El Naga as well as other community-supported art events inviting a number of Doha-based artists to display their works were also part of their fare.
  1. Video art workshops and film screenings:
    • Port Actif Video Workshop
      This was an intensive video art workshop event in which material was sampled and resampled from live and internet sources.
    • Art & Film Masterclass
      These workshops aimed at bridging art and film practice and were led by professionals who were proficient in these areas.
    • Shirin Abu Shaqra Film Screening
      Films by Lebanese artist filmmaker, Shirin Abu Shaqra, who blends animation and documentary, were screened in November 2012.
  1. Theatre and performance workshops – Stages: A Community Performance Workshop
    Director, teacher and writer Jane Williams organized a community workshop performance spread out over five weeks to help individuals develop all aspects of performance right from working together as a group to storytelling skills and to engage the audience.
  1. A variety of other workshops were held for members of the Doha community related to photography, printmaking, designing 3D printing, the art of Mashrabiya, Zoetrope-making, making handmade magazines and others.
  1. One of the events also included a fun day at the centre, which included a picnic for families, kids and all others.

The KAC will shut down finally on June 30, however, they are organising a final community event on June 15 before that. Their bookstore is also offering 30% and 50% discounts on all their merchandise as part of a liquidation sale.

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