Qatar Museums announces inaugural programme for Tasweer Photo Festival Qatar

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Qatar Museums announces inaugural programme for Tasweer Photo Festival Qatar
Ruth Ossai, Ebute Metta, Lagos, Nigeria, 2018. Model: Aunty Nofi. Published: Sleek Magazine, Winter 2018. Courtesy of the Artist, Aperture, and Tasweer Photo Festival Qatar.

DOHA.- Qatar Museums will inaugurate Tasweer Photo Festival Qatar on 24 March, with a dynamic and interconnected programme of exhibitions. The inaugural festival will feature the Sheikh Saoud Al Thani Awards, commissions, collaborations, presentations and workshops that draw innovative international photography together with photographers and photographic communities in Qatar and the Western Asia and North Africa (WANA) region.

Established by Qatar Museums, the festival builds on a commitment to nurture artistic talent, develop Qatar’s arts economy and support creative industry. M7, Qatar’s new hub for innovation and entrepreneurship in the creative industries, will serve as the central location for Tasweer.

“Tasweer was created to champion the medium of photography and will serve as a resource for artists in Qatar and the region,” said Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. “The development of this platform builds on the efforts of the past. The incorporation of the Sheikh Saoud Al Thani photography awards as part of this initiative is to increase the visibility of the talents that we have, and invest in the ecosystem for creative growth. The first photography award in Qatar was established more than twenty years ago — and as we look forward we will continue to grow our collections and to support aspiring photographers and collectors.” Al Thani continues, “I am grateful to all the collaborators, organizations and individuals who have come together to kick start Tasweer — I have no doubt in the impact this will have to our country’s creative and economic growth.”

“We are excited to launch Tasweer Photo Festival Qatar with a robust programme of activities and exhibitions, that aim to leave an indelible mark on the industry in the region” explained Khalifa Al Obaidly, acclaimed Qatari photographer and director of Tasweer. “Tasweer was founded by Qatar Museums to nurture and shine an international spotlight on aspiring and established photographers and photographic communities from Western Asia and North Africa. We are also proud to be able to present this festival this year. It will surely evolve during the coming years with the collaboration of photographers from Qatar and the region.”

On this occasion, Mr. Abdul Rahman Abdul Latif Al-Mannai, Executive Director of the Social & Sport Contribution Fund, said, “We are pleased to sponsor and support the first edition (of the photography festival), as well as Qatar Museums Authority’s activities and events. The Fund's support stems from our belief in the value of this distinguished cultural event, which aligns with the Fund’s goals and values aimed at community development and empowering individuals through strategic support that benefits Qatari people. This reinforces our country's position at the regional and international levels.”

Mr. Al-Mannai added: “Photography has always been a means to prepare the new and upcoming generations of creatives in the field of visual heritage. The Fund's support for the festival only proves the value of this event and its role in encouraging and placing the spotlight on young people, discovering young talents, honing their skills and providing them with creative support in the field of arts. We look forward to the festival’s first edition, and to more cooperation between the Qatar Museums Authority and the Social & Sport Contribution Fund in upcoming events and initiatives.”

Tasweer will dedicate two awards to Sheikh Saoud Al Thani (1966-2014); one of Qatar’s greatest collectors who largely shaped the Museum of Islamic Art’s extraordinary collection. The Sheikh Saoud Al Thani Single Image Award is an annual, open call for a single image that best represents the photographer’s experience and personal narrative. The Sheikh Saoud Al Thani Project Award on the other hand, is an annual grant award that supports photographers’ proposals for the development or completion of a photographic project. Winners of the 2021 Awards will be announced on 24 March, Tasweer’s opening day.

An exhibition that introduces the winners of the 2021 Sheikh Saoud Al Thani Project Award is created in partnership with Qatar Foundation and will be on view at Multaqa (Education City Student Center) Gallery in Education City from 24 March until 30 May. More than 200 of the Sheikh Saoud Al Thani Single Image Award submissions have been selected and curated into an online exhibition at This effort was led by the photography collective Photo Art Qatar and made available on screens at in-patient facilities of Hamad Medical Corporation. The 10 prize-winning photographs of the 2021 Sheikh Saoud Al Thani Single Image Award will be exhibited in the main lobby of Doha Tower.

From 24 March through 30 May, Tasweer will present a series of exhibitions dedicated to global photographers and image makers, including The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion, on view at M7; Contemporary Heritage, on view at heritage sites in Qatar; and Experimental Photography, on view at QM Gallery - Katara.

The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion shows the work of African and African Diaspora image-makers based in creative centres including London and New York, and emerging fashion, design and photography hubs including Lagos and Johannesburg. Curated by Antwaun Sargent, American art critic and author of the book The New Black Vanguard: Photography between Art and Fashion (2019), organized by Aperture Foundation in New York in collaboration with Tasweer’s Artistic Director Charlotte Cotton with Sarah Foryame Lawler, Curatorial Assistant at Qatar Museums, the exhibition celebrates contemporary Black creativity and the cross-pollination between art, fashion, and culture in constructing an image. It also presents new perspectives on the medium of photography and the notions of race and beauty, gender and power. The exhibition includes works by Campbell Addy, Arielle Bobb-Willis, Micaiah Carter, Awol Erizku, Nadine Ijewere, Quil Lemons, Namsa Leuba, Renell Medrano, Tyler Mitchell, Jamal Nxedlana, Daniel Obasi, Ruth Ossai, Adrienne Raquel, Dana Scruggs, and Stephen Tayo. It will be presented as part of the Qatar-USA 2021 Year of Culture; a multifaceted exchange that fosters dialogue and mutual appreciation among the people of the Qatar and a partner nation, this year the USA, through a programme of dynamic cultural events and activations.

Tasweer’s Experimental Photography, which is also part of the Qatar-USA 2021 Year of Culture, draws together six innovative contemporary American artists who are re-shaping photography’s 200-year history of experimentation with new ideas and processes. The artists — Lucas Blalock, Victoria Fu, Valerie Green, Brandon Lattu, Asha Schechter and Kate Steciw – fuse analogue traditions and materials with pixel-based software and new printing and image-rendering technologies. Within a contemporary creative context, the material presence of photographs is an ever-changing experience, the scope of which is set well beyond the confines of artistic practice per se, and in the realms of Web 2.0 and the ‘cloud’ of networked images. Curated by Charlotte Cotton, this exhibition offers up a range of active and subjective choices made by artists to transform and translate images into tangible objects, harnessing the experimental potential of a collective ‘image environment’.

Contemporary Heritage is curated by Sheikha Maryam Hassan Al-Thani and is a landmark project, activating heritage sites with three site-specific installations in partnership with the Private Engineering Office, Fire Station, and Souq Waqif:

• Contemporary Heritage: And Thereafter is an immersive installation at Al Koot Fort, on the edge of Souq Waqif, created by Hadeer Omar, in collaboration with Sonic Jeel and Katia Kolovea. Omar heightens lived moments in the souq by amplifying encounters, bartering, smelling the bukhur and licking the dondurma ice cream through captured images and sounds, as well as incorporating archival footage, all uniquely choreographed in the installation spaces.

• Contemporary Heritage: My Mother Lulwa’s House by Mashael Al Hejazi is installed at Al Najada House number 15, which is part of a cluster of houses dating back to the 1950s that have been restored and preserved. Hejazi has been developing her photographic work in the Msheireb area for the past four years. She evokes the narratives and traces of the area as it was during her childhood.

• Contemporary Heritage: The Spaces In-Between consists of a three-part installation that artist Shaha Al Khulaifi has created specifically for the Al Rayyan Palace, calling on her experience in interpreting and investigating architectural spaces through the medium of photography.

Contemporary Heritage will also include a community photography project for the duration of Tasweer 2021 at Al Wakra House – a Fire Station Creative Space – in the Al Wakrah Souq, with the Analog Film Club.

The Tasweer Photo Festival Qatar hub will be positioned on the ground floor of M7 – a substantial space designed to hold presentations and conversations, interviews, portfolio reviews, workshops, and pop-up and work-in-progress displays. Tasweer’s live and online programme is curated in partnership with M7, and multiple programmatic partners including Scale 7, a fashion and design business incubator founded by QDB in partnership with M7; Studio 7, a concept store dedicated to emerging designers; and Workinton, a coworking space with community fuelled by passion.

Tasweer’s Artistic Director, Charlotte Cotton, describes the festival hub as, “a place where we can make, talk and plan together - where projects and ideas start their journey and will carry the legacy of Tasweer 2021 forward with exhibitions, grants, commissions, and partnerships, and into Tasweer’s future.”

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