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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Acquiring Modernity in Process - the Kuwaiti Pavilion at the Venice Biennale…


Maysaa's currently in Venice as a part of the team designing, building and assembling the Kuwaiti Pavilion for the Venice Biennale. The included images from the pavilion, all sourced from the pavilion's website, which is titled Acquiring Modernity, aims to, as the website states, "...restage the celebratory opening of the Kuwait National Museum. During the rest of the six-month exhibition, the team will continue developing their investigations concerning the role of the institution towards a more meaningful definition of its program(s), preferably in unison with the renovation efforts that began in April 2014 between the NCCAL and Pace to resuscitate the currently underused building. Encouraging an expanded understanding of architectural heritage that is inclusive of modernist structures is also an important objective of this project. We ask ourselves, what is the future of heritage in Kuwait? 


Very much looking forward to how it all comes together…  The event opens to the public on June 7, 2014… 

The exhibition is curated by Alia Farid (her website is currently being updated, but can eventually be accessed here)… 

All images sourced from the Acquiring Modernity website and their Facebook Page… 















Wednesday, May 28, 2014

VCUQatar MFA Thesis Projects on the Web...


Slowly but surely our MFA Department's webpage is coming along… One of the recent additions is a page containing (downloadable) links to the thesis' projects of our MFA graduates… The most recent contingent (that graduates earlier this month) still news to be added, so watch this space… 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

High-Art in the High-Street…


Polish poster exhibition in the Salt Gallery in Istanbul...

There’s something to be said for mixing, or at least subtly introducing, so called ‘high-art’ into pervasive public contexts, scenes it usually is not exposed to, environments it’s commonly partitioned from. This urban tactic is something that could potentially be considered particularly appropriate for the GCCregion, where - even though today having its own set of cultural institutions and exhibitions of an international esteem and quality - these still remain somewhat hermetic entities and events, insulated both in exposure as well as affect from the general population. As a result they are all defined as destinations – locales one has to ‘plan’ to visit – rather than places one just, apropos, would happen to walk by, get curious about (rather than intimidated by), and walk in…   In Doha examples of such hermetic entities would be the MIA (Museum of Islamic Art) located on a manmade island that can only be accessed by car, and the Katara Cultural Village, which is split from the rest of Westbay by a, in turn, artificial stretch of hills surrounding its collection of cultural institutions.
An allowance for such spontaneous incidents to occur could be much more of a catalyst to engage and awaken a public interest, awareness, even debate, about related cultural interests, exposure to concepts regarding ‘what it all means and is for’. 

Exhibition in the Salt Gallery...

Whereas such quasi-public bodies are currently conceived and segregated into themed settings (cultural theme-parks, of sorts), a more benign approach for engaging the ‘public’ with their intents would be to allow such entities to permeate the local renditions of the high-street – be this along an actual street or one of the regional (village-sized) shopping malls. By mixing in such cultural spaces in amongst chain-shops, department-store POP’s and food venues the threshold for triggering ones curiosity is reduced, allowing for a more organic awareness to evolve. 

A exhibition on contemporary dance at the Salt Gallery...

As examples of existing endeavors of such locales can be mentioned Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul, where the Arter Gallery is found (which recently featured an exhibition by Marc Quinn). A short walk down is the the Salt Gallery, which has a more design and multi-disciplinary focus. It also has a book-store, a restaurant, and a small garden on the top floor. 

Salt Gallery facade...

Another example, here sited in a high-end mall context, is the TCDC (Thailand Creative Design Center) in Bangkok. In this latter example a whole cohort of design related activities – a design library, gallery, coffee-shop, materials library, exhibition space, design-shop, as well as a fancy membership lounge - occupy a floor of the Emporium Shopping Mall. 

The elevation of the Arter Gallery in Istanbul...

Mixing – subjecting – these kinds of conceptual paradigms to an audience that’s not usually exposed to these types of works can only be a good thing. Expanding the awareness about Art and Design, and the catalysts and ideas that trigger and drive such engagement, could be a good way to disseminate info and promote what we do…

The front of the After Gallery...

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Interdisciplinary Design Symposium - Follow up...


A few days back our (hopefully) inaugural symposium exploring interdisciplinary in design research and practice concluded. And what a catalytic few days they were..! 

Certainly no conclusions were reached, as these would be counterproductive for the kind of (infinitely) evolving practice of the (constantly morphing) trade that interdisciplinarity suggests. However, understanding and knowledge regarding what this type of practice might entail was explored, clarified, and disseminated - and a preliminary network of individuals related to such practices was established… 

Good times… 

Included above and below are a few images from my introductory presentation, followed by a few photos from the event…  





Below a few images of some of the presenters…


Pornprapha Phatanateatcha (Thailand) introducing the VCQatar's MFA Department...

Simone Carena of IDAS and Motoelastico (Seoul/ Italy)… 

Yongjun Lee of IDAS in Seoul...

Nanci Takeyama of Nanyang (NTU) in Singapore…

Christopher Kaltenbach of NSCAD in Canada...

Jan Chen of Jiangnan University, China...

Lina Mahusain - (VCUQatar MFA Alumni), Kuwait/ USA…

Ezra Kazem (VCUQatar MFA Alumni), Qatar/ Iraq...

Byrad Yelland (Canada), Director of LAS at VCUQatar...

Richard Lombard (USA), Material Curator/ Faculty at VCUQatar...

Alia Khairat (VCUQatar MFA Alumni), Egypt...

Paolo Cardini, VCUQatar MFA Faculty, Italy...

Maryam Al-Homaid (VCUQatar MFA Alumni), Qatar...

Diane Derr, Curator of the Innovative Media Studio at VCUQatar, USA... 

Hunmin Koh, Founder of multiple Maker-spaces, Korea...

Shashank Mehta of NID, India...

Active 'round-table' discussion...

Event program sketch by Ryan Rasmussen...

Event program sketch by Paolo Cardini...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Interdisciplinary Design Symposium, May 17 - 18, 2014, Doha…


The MFA in Design Department here at VCUQatar will be hosting a two day symposium exploring and debating the research and practice based paradigms of interdisciplinary design… 

An international cohort of presenters will be exploring this challenging topic both at the Msheireb Center on May 17, and at the HBKU Student Center in Education City on May 18… 

The schedule for the event's two days is included below (please click on the images to enlarge them). We've also included an invite for the event beneath the schedule pages… 

If you wish to join us please RSVP our Administrative Assistant Rebecca Davis at: erebecca@vcu.edu 

Good times…