Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art launched two special exhibitions in Doha on November 17, 2012. Tea with Nefertiti: The Making of the Artwork by the Artist, the Museum and the Public, on view until March 31, 2013; and Forever Now: Five Anecdotes from the Permanent Collection, on view until June 1, 2013, highlight the work of contemporary vanguards and reexamine modernist pioneers from the Arab world.
The first institution of its kind in the region, Mathaf (which means “museum” in Arabic) offers an Arab perspective on modern and contemporary art, supporting creativity, promoting dialogue and inspiring new ideas. Mathaf’s exhibitions continue to lend this unique perspective to the art world, as well as developing local knowledge and international dialogue on art and culture.
“Qatar Museums Authority is pleased to present two special exhibitions this fall at Mathaf that underscore the Museum’s commitment to sharing its comprehensive collection, engaging with diverse audiences and encouraging research and scholarship,” said Qatar Museums Authority Chairperson Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. “Tea with Nefertiti and Forever Now are two examples of QMA’s ongoing commitment to global cultural dialogue and exchange. We are proud to share these important exhibitions with the Doha community.”
Tea with Nefertiti explores the mechanisms by which artworks come to acquire a range of meanings and functions that can embody a number of diverse narratives. By exploring the example of the contested histories of many Egyptian Museum collections, the exhibition concerns itself with the critique of museology, the staging of the artwork, the writing of art-historical narratives and the employment of mechanisms of visual and literary display as a means of forming, informing and framing cultural otherness.
Curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, Tea with Nefertiti features 25 international contemporary artists/collectives, including Ghada Amer, Gilbert & George, Vik Muniz, and William Kentridge, alongside a selection of modernist artists such as Modigliani, Giacometti, Moukhtar and Sabbagh. Also on view is a number of Pharaonic, Coptic, Islamic and Orientalist works.
It reflects on the process of appropriation, de-contextualization and re-semanticisation that an artwork undergoes as it travels through time and place. In doing so, it unpacks the complex relationships that exist between such artworks, the artists who first made them and the institutions that exhibited them.
Tea with Nefertiti will travel to the Institut du Monde Arabe (Paris), where it will be complemented by an academic conference organized by Mathaf and the Institut National de l’Historie de l’Art (INHA), then travel to the Centre for Fine Arts, BOZAR (Brussels) and other venues.
Forever Now posits a new understanding of five diverse modern Arab artists: Fahrelnissa Zeid (1901–1991), Jewad Selim (1921–1961), Saliba Al-Doueihy (1913-1994), Salim Al-Dabbagh (b. 1941), and Ahmed Cherkaoui (1934–1967).
Featuring 57 works from the collection, Forever Now examines artists’ interactions with their immediate environments, histories, and cultures. The stories trace the work of these artists, offering a nuanced dialogue between experience and history, fact and interpretation.
“This is a great opportunity to continue the exploration of modern art from the Arab world that begun with the inception of Mathaf,” stated Mathaf’s founder H.E. Sheikh Hassan bin Mohammed bin Ali Al Thani.
The five selected artists are from varied backgrounds, countries and generations. Each presents a unique process of artistic development and negotiation, but are united through process, heritage, geography and aspiration, navigating comfortably and confidently through different and disparate sources. Aside from the individual achievement, each of the artists contributed to the making of a regional movement in modern art.
Forever Now contextualizes the formal, personal, and historical references found in their work, exploring possibilities for new narratives that further understanding of the history of modern Arab art. An exhibition catalogue, with new writings and archival materials edited by Dr. Nada Shabout, will accompany the exhibition and provide new perspectives on the collection.
Tea with Nefertiti: The Making of the Artwork
by the Artist, the Museum and the Public
November 17, 2012–March 31, 2013
Forever Now: Five Anecdotes from the
November 17, 2012–June 1, 2013