The fourth edition of the Artist in Residence programme is named Infinite Dimensions and it introduces creative practices that do not comply with the typical goal of transforming ideas into artforms.
Instead of finding creative ways to represent ideas, the ideas by themselves are exhibited as the art form in this creative exercise. This approach is the result of a close association of the curators and artists, and it is this inter-active exercise that is the main purpose of the Artist in Resident’s programme at the Fire Station Museum, Doha.
According to the curator Dr Bahaa Abudaya, “This collaboration occurred as a part of a journey of discovery aimed at answering one main question: where does the focal point of an artform lie? Is it the work itself or the idea behind the work?”
As well as providing a forum for curators and artists to exchange ideas, this experimental lab materialised in three different approaches, Dr Baha explains.
“The exhibition is divided into three distinct approaches that reflect on the personality of each artist,” explains Dr Baha, “Artwork that expresses ideas clearly and directly; those that are open to different perspectives and interpretations and those that lie somewhere between these two approaches.”
The gallery space at the Fire Station Museum was thus divided into three intersecting levels.
The exhibition also presents the work Printer Up Above the Wolrd So High by Eman Makki. This according to Dr. Bahaa is one of the most unusual art work in its approach in the local and Arab art scene. It consists of a small machine printing black dots on a white paper roll.“The artwork focuses on the unimaginable quantity of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, estimated to be more than 100 billion. Data documenting the number of stars is input into the bespoke programme that generates a series of marks printed continuously,” explains Eman.
The idea of continuity is at the heart of this installation, confronting the viewer with a bold question, “when will the artwork considered to be complete?”
The Red Room
This mix media artwork called Ancient Structure by Abdulla Al-Kuwari is in the space that is in-between comprehension and mystery. Abdulla is an artist who usually specialises in paint and print media and this is the first time that he has explored multiple mediums to create a simple red tent which puts to use patterns and narratives to instigate a complex reaction of the senses.
The artist explores formats and patterns to create a box-like room where one is assaulted by a myriad of emotions by the usage of the strong red colour and the continuing patterns and calligraphic elements.
“I tried to educate myself through this project on new materials and it was an effort to take my art practice to the next level. The texts or patterns are inspired by ancient calligraphy but it is not entirely the same because I have added my own interpretation to it,” says Abdulla.
“It is repeated inside and outside the structure. This artwork is not only about seeing the structure, but experiencing it from inside and outside and letting the different patterns affect the person who experiences it. The use of red and black has a certain emphasis. Black is mysterious and it also pushes the red to be even more vivid. I have used matt black to enhance the effect of red,” says Abdulla. “The lights make the red even more vivid, and it also evokes the feeling of conflict, which is the intent.”
The starting point was just drawings but the process was spontaneous and it grew to the usage of lights on pattern and then Abdulla felt the need to create a structure around the pattern in a continuation of the same pattern that evokes all the multiple emotions he wanted to convey.
The Modern Arab Woman
Sarah Al-Ansari examines her heritage through her paintings in acrylic ink, oil and bead embroidery.
“As a woman growing up in the Middle East, I have dealt with segregation and a cultural push to follow a traditional role,” reveals Sarah, “Finding a balance between respect for my Islamic culture and being a modern woman is a journey that I have embarked on since a long time and it is one that continues.”
It is this inner conflict that is portrayed in the art work which incorporates figures within Islamic patterns. “A tension is created by repressing the figure within the patterns as a way of expressing my mixed feelings about my place as a bi-cultural woman in a traditional setting,” she says.
Her art work also coveys a submerged feel which Sarah says is how she represented the feeling of not knowing where she truly belongs.
The shoes and the thinking woman portrayed shines light into the modern woman who has a mind of her own and is yet held back by traditions, a woman who is not confrontational hence floats around in an ink-splattered background.
The Art of Fitting In
Maryam Al Ameri has created a very insightful installation which is named School Dress. It is an installation with a variation. It has numerous school dresses from the elementary school and it tugs memory cells of any one who views it of the times spent in that era.
She says, “Elementary school experience differs from one student to another but the desire to grow and fit in is common to every child. This installation puts the spotlight on each child; some who fit into the system, others who were picked on, or dismissed by teachers for being creative and for being unapologetically themselves.”
The Love for Roundabouts
Sidra Zubairi lived in that beautiful era of Doha when it was dotted with roundabouts. She recalls explaining the location of her home in the context to a roundabout, each of which was named for the installation it carried within. “I live near the Clock Roundabout, was a phrase, I always used since my childhood,” says Pakistani-born-Doha-bred Sidra.
While the city metamorphosised and developed rapidly, the landmarks disappeared and this installation or jewellery was part of reviving her memories of those iconic roundabouts that gave the city a character.
“As a jewellery designer, I introduced these monuments through a playful interactive lens. I wanted to go back to the past to reinforce the existing value of these sculptures to relive the precious moments through small kinetic jewellery pieces,” she says.
Nayla Ahmed, Assistant Professor in Fashion Design department at VCUQ is an expert in anything connected to fashion having completed her MA in Applied Imagination in Creative Industries from Central Saint Martins. She along with Federica Visani a womenswear and footwear designer, educator and creative consultant based in Doha and Paris with a Masters in Fashion Design from IFM Paris have created a thought-provoking installation of very exquisite human-sized ornamental changing hands.
“The hands are a reminder of the influence of beauty in our lives, it is like a surreal daydream and a shameless indulgence in frivolity. It is a state of visual dichotomy of the beautiful and the grotesque and the moment of vulnerability to the violence of beautiful things,” says Nayla.
The hanging hands are exhibited in an enclosed shell covered with mirrors which makes for an impressive installation that intrigues the senses with the opulence of the decorated fingers and the feeling of repugnance for the limbs hanging down.