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Home /  Nation  /  VCUarts Qatar faculty member’s installation provides an immersive experience into Al Koot Fort’s history

VCUarts Qatar faculty member’s installation provides an immersive experience into Al Koot Fort’s history

VCUarts Qatar faculty member’s installation provides an immersive experience into Al Koot Fort’s history

Tribune News Network
Doha
Re-envisioning a heritage site that has a unique place in Qatar’s history, while retaining its identity and cultural symbolism, is a balancing act. And, a Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) faculty member has managed to do just that – and with finesse.
Hadeer Omar, assistant professor in Art Foundation at VCUarts Qatar, a Qatar Foundation partner university, was commissioned by the organisers of the Tasweer Photo Festival Qatar to activate and transform three key segments of the Al Koot Fort – an edifice that is a cherished symbol of Qatar’s history since its construction in 1906, in the heart of the city – with a contemporary twist.
In response to the brief, Omar came up with an installation titled ‘And Thereafter’. Michael Hersrud, associate professor, Graphic Design, and Simone Muscolino, director, Art Foundation – who are part of the VCUarts Qatar-based artists collective Sonic Jeel – and London-based sound and light designer Katia Kolovea, collaborated with Omar on the project. The installation is open to the public from March 24 to May 30.
“Al-Koot Fort has a unique and complex history,” says Omar. “Its location is at the confluence of the historic market area and the seaside port, and is now centrally placed between Souq Waqif and Msheireb Properties. Hence, the significance of the locality was crucial to the narrative development of our concept. The surrounding area, specifically Souq Waqif, inspired us to create, generate and tell the place’s story from a new perspective – one that weaves together heritage and contemporary aspects of daily life to be translated and transformed into impressionistic media experiences.”
Walking into each section, one can immediately sense how the team recorded visuals, sound and mapped light to heighten the multi-sensory experience of the three segments – ‘The Transition’ (courtyard of the fort), ‘The Journey’ (the back room), and ‘The Metamorphosis’ (the entrance room) – in the installation.
“‘And Thereafter’ is an audiovisual immersive installation that activates three key areas of Al-Koot Fort,” Omar further explains. “The audience will experience a combination of light, sound and video projections as they navigate through key spaces in a non-linear journey guided by experiential elements such as scent, sound, light and images. Though the layout of the space creates a natural progression of experiences, the audience are free to move through the sections as they please; a one-way directed route is not necessary to appreciate the overall narrative.”
Muscolino notes how this project marks a milestone in the sense that it was both a culmination of several years of experiments and research, and also the starting point for further explorations into distinctive approaches to contemporary audiovisuals in the context of activating spaces.
“For the last decade, Hadeer, Michael and myself have been developing a language that can be applied to graphic artifacts, photography, video, and sound,” Muscolino says. “It is great to have the opportunity to add an experienced light designer like Katia to that collaborative equation.”
‘And Thereafter’ is curated by Maryam Hassan Al-Thani, and is part of the larger Contemporary Heritage project where sites of cultural importance are activated by other local artists.
In the broader context, Tasweer will feature a dynamic and interconnected program of exhibitions, 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 region.

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