In a formative exhibition that will take place at Yuz Museum Shanghai, Watering the Desert | Contemporary Art from Qatar will be the first large-scale exhibition of Qatari and Qatar-based contemporary artists to be presented in China. Curated by Qatar Museums’ Issa Al Shirawi and Maryam Hassan Al Thani, the exhibition is organised by Qatar Museums in collaboration with Yuz Museum, which will showcase the work of 34 multidisciplinary artists, designers, and filmmakers working within Qatar’s artistic scene. The exhibition is scheduled to be on view from 8 November 2023 to 3 March 2024.
Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums, stated, “Watering the Desert is the result of a 6-year strategic partnership between Qatar Museums (QM), Yuz Museum (YUZ), and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Based on this partnership, the exhibition highlights the importance of cross-cultural dialogue and exchanges through art. We are proud to collaborate with Yuz Museum in Shanghai, a prominent Chinese institution and a long-time partner of Qatar Museums, in showcasing and amplifying distinct voices and artistic practices from Qatar. Through the diverse, multidisciplinary works of these exhibited artists, this exhibition presents our thriving and globally connected creative ecosystem which is nourished by our local roots and traditions.”
Justine Alexandria Tek, CEO and Director of Yuz Museum and Yuz Foundation, added, “We are proud to host our trusted partner, Qatar Museums, in China for an in-depth exhibition of contemporary Qatari art that sparks a dialogue among our diverse cultures and explores the intersections and influences throughout our history. This marks a significant step forward for Yuz Museum to embrace our late founder, Budi Tek’s vision of promoting exchanges with the world through significant art and culture. Through the long-term partnership between the three institutions, Yuz, QM, and LACMA, we aim to continue and strengthen this unique and precious bond through conversations and programs, highlighting our individual distinctions while uncovering our similarities in this new era of globalisation.”
Watering the Desert | Contemporary Art from Qatar bridges the gap between Qatar’s traditional practices and modern transformative spirit. The exhibition showcases an impressive array of multidisciplinary projects that focus on four interconnected themes: vivid recollections of shared experiences, commentary on complex social dynamics regarding the concept of home, urban transformations, and the fusion of art and the natural environment. Combined, this culturally rich presentation captures the current artistic zeitgeist in Qatar.
“Travelling exhibitions are great opportunities to broaden perceptions, address misconceptions, and offer glimpses into the artistic experimentation that has been growing organically within and with Qatar. We are proud to serve as a global platform for Qatari artists to showcase their work, whether they are pioneering, mid-career, and emerging artists,” said Issa Al Shirawi, Head of International Exhibitions at Qatar Museums and the exhibition’s co-curator. Maryam Hassan Al Thani, co-curator of the exhibition, added, “We have approached this exhibition with fresh perspectives on recurring themes in contemporary Arab art. To work with Yuz Museum, who shares the same passion for contemporary art and providing platforms for emerging voices in the art world, has been an extremely meaningful process that we are excited to share with new audiences.”
Watering the Desert | Contemporary Art from Qatar involves a number of collaborations with other QM and partner organisations in Qatar, with notable contributions from Virginia Commonwealth University of Arts (VCU-Q) and the Doha Film Institute (DFI). Several of the exhibited works were created by artists based in VCU-Q creative research labs, and a number artists previously participated in the Fire Station: Artist in Residence program created and operated by Qatar Museums.
The exhibition’s artists are Sebastián Betancur-Montoya, Hassan bin Mohammed Al Thani, Noora Al Hardan, Hadeer Omar, Michael Hersurd and Simone Muscolino, Sophia Al Maria, Mubarak Nasser Al Thani, Markus Elblaus, Maryam Al Homaid, Noor Abu Issa, Salman Al Malik, Bouthayna Al Muftah, Abdulrahman Al Muftah, Aisha Al Sowaidi, Hana Al Saadi, Ghada Al Khater, Yousef Ahmad Al Homaid, Christto Andrew, Giovanni Inella, Hala Amer, Saga Elkabbash, Levi Hammett and George Paul, Anfal al Kandari, Alya Al Khalifa and Guillaume Rousere, Naila Al Thani, Amena Al Yousef, Saida Al Khulaifi, Water with Water (Nathan R Davis and Sarah Elawad), (IN)>Tangible Lab (Sara Al Naimi and Maha Al Marri with Research and Design by Latifa Al Ali, Alanood Al Thani and Natasha Fernandez and Film, Sound, Support, and Guidance from Astrid Kensinger, Mayssa Al-Mumin, Guillaume Rousere, Alaa Albarazy, Dr. Aspa Chatziefthimiou, Raviv Cohen, Shaima Sherif, David Mathew, Basma Hamdy and Nishi Rafols), Shaima Al Tamimi and Mariam Salim, Majid Al Remaihi, Amal Al Muftah, and Jassim Al Rumaihi.
Watering the Desert | Contemporary Art from Qatar exhibition is part of a wider partnership formed in 2019 between QM, YUZ, and LACMA. This collaboration was established with the goal of jointly developing and sharing exhibitions and cultural programmes across these prestigious institutions, effectively creating a multi-site exhibition programme with a truly global perspective. The exhibition embodies the spirit of international cooperation, bridging cultures, and advancing the appreciation of art on a truly global scale.
Moreover, Watering the Desert serves not only as a vibrant celebration of contemporary art from Qatar but also as a testament to the legacy of the Qatar-China 2016 Year of Culture. This pivotal cultural milestone has laid a robust foundation for fostering cultural exchange and artistic collaboration between Qatar and China. This exhibition is representative of the international and cultural exchange that continues to flourish, bridging nations and fostering a global appreciation of art and culture.
Press release from Qatar Museums
Image: Anfal Alkandari. Picnic ’88. 2023. Photography by CHU Yining. Image courtesy of Yuz Museum