In Doha – Day 1 and 2

Disclaimer: I realize the story of Germany and my trip there has been left in the middle. But I guess it needs to wait for a while!

A random incident made me find the website for a grant being given out for CIMAM Conference in Doha, which was due to take place in November of 2014. I took a chance and applied for it, and one things leads to another, I get a grant, and here I am – in my hotel room in Doha, waiting for the first day of Conference to begin.

I had read up on the many developments that have been taking place with regards to bringing Art in the forefront – this includes besides the construction of many new museum, a very big public art program, integrating Art into the fabric of the society. So much so, that you can’t enter Doha without running into one or two fo such pieces.

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I got to witness some of the developments in this regard first hand, when we – as part of the parallel activities of the conference – went to MAHTAF, where Shirin Neshat’s new exhibition “Afterwards” opened up yesterday. Now I had become a great fan of Shirin Neshat, after first seeing her work in 2012. I thought, hmm this is nice! But her current body of work failed to vow me. Throughout the show the only thought that went through my head was – “Okay so whats new?” Her work for me had a lot of conceptual and technical issues. The overlapping of text over digital work, with no connection to the lines and the real subject made the text irrelevant and very disturbing for me. But these details are the subject matter of another blog post.

Evening was a normal event, as I went out to have dinner at a mall nearby, City Mall – apparently it is a big attraction for everyone here! A must see – as any Qatari will tell you. For me the only highlight was Biella! The food was fabulous, the ravioli was fresh, delicious, generous and just perfect!

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The conference of CIMAM started today, that is the 9th of November 2014. The first day was a wonderful experience to attend, to be able to meet so many people who think like you and have the same type of thoughts as to the difficulties of Art and getting the message across was simply fabulous!

After the conference, we headed off to the Museum of Islamic Art, a wonderful and delightful place, and what a high it is to be able to say that you visited a building by I.M. Pei. The architecture and the overall design of the exhibits is simply fascinating. I do have a comment on the collection but then again that is another long discussion.

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Afterwards, it was a trip to the Souq Waqif! Now here is a tip for people who are from the East! Don’t waste your time – and most importantly money – over there! That place is just not worth it. Made in 2008, it is not an authentic souk and does nothing more but enforce the image of orientalism that westerners have in their mind!

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So far, it is a love hate relationship with Doha! But there is still more to go! So lets see!

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