Qatar Museums Showcases Country's Pearling History in New York

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'Pearls of Wonder: a Digital Era,' an immersive digital art show highlighting Qatar's rich history of pearling through the eyes of young Qatari artists working today, has finished at Qatar Museums.

The show, which ran from December 14 to 19, was organized by Qatar Museums' curator of modern art, Dr Bahaa Abudaya, as part of the Qatar-USA 2021 Year of Culture, an annual international cultural exchange aimed at deepening understanding between nations and their people.

'Pearls of Wonder: a Digital Era' took visitors back in time to a time when Qatar was one of the world's top pearl exporters, thanks to new work by five Qatari artists. Natural pearls had a vital part in defining the region's economic history, as well as the nation's culture and customs, according to the audience.

Qatar Museums concluded its historical showcase of Qatari artists project 'Pearl of Wonder'.
Qatar Museums concluded its historical showcase of Qatari artists project 'Pearl of Wonder'.

Mohamed Faraj al-Suwaidi, Maryam al-Homaid, Alanoud al-Buainain, May Almannai, and Saida Alkhulaif are all graduates of Qatar Museums' Fire Station, a contemporary art space dedicated to supporting artists through its Artist in Residence program as well as engaging local communities through events, exhibitions, and public art.

"With the creative exhibition, 'Pearls of Wonder: a digital era,' we are happy to have brought the Qatar-USA 2021 Year of Culture program to an end," said Aisha al-Attiya, head of Qatar Museums' Cultural Diplomacy Department. "We can share this significant part of our past with others in the United States by commemorating such a critical period in Qatar's growth through digital installations created by local artists." Visitors may learn more about Qatar and its wonderful history in a unique and engaging way by telling these stories in such a compelling way."

"Qatari pearls have a long and illustrious history, and they are renowned for their exquisite beauty and quality all over the world. 'Pearls of Wonder' brought a long heritage of pearl diving to life in fresh and aesthetically spectacular ways, and we are happy to have shared our history with the rest of the world while highlighting the incredible abilities of these five Qatari artists." said Fatema al-Baker, director of Public Diplomacy at the embassy of Qatar.


The following are some of the artists and their works:

● 'Bubbles & Pearls' by Mohamed Faraj al-Suwaidi:

Viewers were immersed underwater in virtual reality, surrounded by pearls and bubbles of different shapes and sizes. Users could bust the bubbles surrounding them to get either oxygen or petroleum oil, which signaled the conclusion of the voyage and the end of the pearling period, as well as the new beginning of Qatar's growth. Al-Suwaidi is a digital architect who is now earning his PhD. His work has progressed from mechanical sculptures to digital platforms throughout time.

Mohamed Al-Suwaidi, Bubbles & Pearls virtual reality experience, 2021
Mohamed Al-Suwaidi, Bubbles & Pearls virtual reality experience, 2021


● 'Singing Narratives within the Deep Sea', by Maryam al-Homaid:

Using code, this projection-based piece brought archive pictures from the pearl diving era to life. Al-Homaid presented recovered photos with movement effects that mimic the sea waves, inspired by Mubarak bin Saif al-poem Thani's "The Remains of a Diving Ship."

The segment paid homage to the memories that live on in the sea. Al-Homaid is an interdisciplinary designer who combines technology-based mediums with DIY culture to bridge the gap between today's high-tech mediums and forgotten crafts from the Arabian Gulf.

Maryam Al-Homaid, Deep Sea Story Song, Code Generation Video, Photograph, 2021
Maryam Al-Homaid, Deep Sea Story Song, Code Generation Video, Photograph, 2021


● 'Pearls of Rain' by Saida Alkhulaifi:

'Pearls of Rain' envisioned a hazy dream and sentimental recollection of the artist's great grandparents, based on the traditional idea that pearls are formed when oysters swallow rainfall. Viewers were able to experience the intense sentiments and emotions caused by pearl diving through film, sound, photography, and archive material.

Alkhulaifi is a visual artist that uses a combination of analogue photography, experimental development and printing, film, text, and needlework to investigate themes of identity, societal conventions, and time.

Saida Alkhulaifi, Pearls of Rain
Saida Alkhulaifi, Pearls of Rain