Selections reviews two exhibitions not to be missed in Qatar this summer

Red / Red
Project Space, Mathaf
May 22 to September 11

Red / Red is a fascinating installation piece by Turkish artist Aslı Çavuşoğlu, exploring the gradual disappearance of the pigment known as Armenian red. Originally shown as part of the 14th Istanbul Biennial last year, the installation was supported by Qatar Museums and is now on show for the first time in Doha.
Çavuşoğlu’s piece is made up of six drawings and 10 handmade notebooks, all created using two different types of red ink: Armenian red, made using extracts from the cochineal insect, and Turkish red, the colour used on the national flag. What lends the drawings a powerful resonance is the fact that Armenian red is in the process of disappearing, after more than 2500 years of use.
In Turkey, knowledge of how to make the traditional pigment has been lost since 1915. In Armenia, the cochineal insect and the plant it lives on are endangered by rapid industrialisation. Through her installation Çavuşoğlu aims to campaign for the protection of the ecosystem of the Aras river valley, the natural border area between Armenia and Turkey where the beetles are found.
Çavuşoğlu’s drawings tell their own tale, contrasting the bright Turkish red and its subtler Armenian counterpart, which fades over time, in a series of drawings beginning with delicate floral patterns and graduating to more modern geometric designs. Her work thereby evokes the significance of the ink to Armenia’s cultural history.

Artists in Residence
Garage Gallery, Fire Station
June 3 to December 1

As the first residency cycle at Qatar Museum’s Fire Station comes to a close, the 18 local artists who have dedicated the last nine months to their craft are exhibiting their most successful works to the public, providing a glimpse into the efficacy of the new residency programme. This diverse exhibition showcases a wide range of media and approaches, providing an overview of the different artists’ visions and studio practices.
There are a few themes that serve as unifying ribbons running throughout the show, which includes photography, sculpture and installations. Several of the artists have chosen to explore the nature of multicultural identities, while other focus on childhood memories and connections to lost places.

A sculpture by Hana Al-Saadi, made using rough slabs of concrete resembling breeze blocks, forms the shape of the infinity symbol at the entrance to the gallery, an interesting juxtaposition with many of the other works, which deal with temporality and change.
Designer Othman Khunji explores the swiftly changing face of the holy city of Mecca in an installation entitled The Selfless Holy Ground, created using cutting-edge technology, while Emelina Soares, who was born and raised in Qatar to Indian parents, explores her mixed background in Shifting Identities. An accomplished installation piece, the work resembles an enormous, brightly coloured rug, but is made entirely of sand, taken from the Qatari desert and dyed using Indian pigments.

by Irene McConnell

A version of this article appeared in print in Selections, The Urban Art Issue #37, on pages 36-37