Biennial Tasweer photo fest opens

By Staff Reporter
March 14, 2023

The biennial Tasweer Photo Festival Qatar has officially inaugurated its 2023 edition, bringing together photographers and photographic communities from Qatar and the Western Asia and North Africa (WANA) region.

Tasweer opened four exhibitions yesterday: Doha Fashion Fridays and A Chance To Breathe exhibitions at M7, Qatar’s epicentre for innovation and entrepreneurship in design, fashion, and tech; Hadeer Omar: And Thereafter immersive installation at Al Koot Fort; and Mashael al-Hejazi: My Mother Lulwa’s House installation at Majlis Barahat Al Jufairi.

The exhibitions and installations are on view until May 20.

Tasweer is organised by Qatar Museums (QM) and presented as part of Qatar Creates, the year-round national cultural movement that curates, promotes, and celebrates the diversity of cultural activities in Qatar.

Established under the leadership of QM Chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, Tasweer builds on Qatar’s commitment to nurture artistic talent, support creative industries, and further develop the nation’s creative economy.

“The medium of photography can tell stories and convey meaning like no other,” she said in a statement. “Yet, despite photography’s popularity and accessibility, the number of opportunities for the artform to be recognised, studied, and discussed with practitioners, critics, and enthusiasts are becoming fewer, especially in our region.”

“As we prepare for our second Tasweer biennial, we build on our 2021 success with a more robust presentation of exhibitions, an even larger platform for Qatari and international creatives to display their work, and an enhanced schedule of programmes for the public to enjoy,” HE Sheikha Al Mayassa said.

Doha Fashion Fridays – image by Aparna Jayakumar.

At M7, Doha Fashion Fridays presents a unique collaborative project, initiated in 2017 on Instagram by artists Khalid Albaih and Aparna Jayakumar, in which migrant workers in Qatar are photographed and interviewed on Fridays, their day of rest.

Using fashion as a lens, the project tells narratives about the diverse migrant population that has come to Qatar with dreams and aspirations.

A Chance To Breathe by Azimul Hasson.

The second exhibition at M7, A Chance To Breathe, presents the work of three Rohingya refugees – Azimul Hasson, Dil Kayas, and Omal Khair – who have documented their personal experience inside Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, the largest refugee camp in the world.

Doha Debates teamed up with the human rights organisation Fortify Rights in 2018 to train and support the three artists.

A 23-minute documentary film, titled EXODUS, 2022, produced by Doha Debates will be presented alongside the exhibition.

The fellowships will continue over the course of Tasweer 2023, as the artists photograph inside Cox’s Bazaar during Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr in collaboration with Doha Fashion Fridays’ Aparna Jayakumar and Shaima al-Tamimi.

The images will be added to the presentation of A Chance to Breathe throughout its run, in dialogue with the Doha Fashion Fridays exhibition, which is also being presented at M7.

Acclaimed Qatari photographer and Tasweer director Khalifa al-Obaidly said: “Tasweer presents a dynamic and integrated schedule of various exhibitions, specially commissioned installations at historic sites, cross-cultural partnerships, workshops, and more.”

“We are pleased to be reactivating two commissioned installations that stimulate Qatar’s heritage locations in addition to the exhibitions at M7,” he said.

And Thereafter by Hadeer Omar.

At Al Koot Fort, on the edge of Souq Waqif, And Thereafter presents an immersive installation by Qatar resident artist Hadeer Omar in collaboration with Sonic Jeel, an artistic collective exploring hybrid-media, initiated by Michael Hersrud, Simone Muscolino, and multidisciplinary designer Katia Kolovea.

For this site-specific installation, Omar drew upon the surrounding areas of Souq Waqif as sources of inspiration, weaving together traditional and contemporary aspects of daily life, translating and transforming them into surreal immersive environments.

The artist creates a sense of the myriad sensory experiences in the souq through captured images and sounds, all uniquely choreographed in the designated spaces of the fort.

At Majlis Barahat Al Jufairi, My Mother Lulwa’s House presents an installation by Qatari artist Mashael al-Hejazi that honours the social and architectural character of this historic district of Doha and the collective memories and narratives of the Al Baraha community, where she had lived during her childhood.

The overarching theme of her work is to re-inhabit this traditional Qatari place with the characteristics of a loving home and family, interwoven through the spaces of the majlis, the mother’s room, and the liwan (courtyard).

Reported by Staff Reporter

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