All photos copyright Sally Crane
A new permanent art installation consisting of four steel plates that are about 15m (49 feet) tall has been unveiled in Qatar’s desert.
The artwork, created for Qatar by renowned American artist Richard Serra’s, is called “East-West/West-East,” and is located some 60km outside of Doha at the Brouq Nature Reserve near Zekreet.
The massive plates span 1km of the area, and “is set in a natural corridor formed by gypsum plateaus,” the Qatar Museums Authority said in a statement. Chairperson Sheikha Al Mayassa unveiled the artwork during a press event on Tuesday afternoon.
Serra was quoted as saying the area “has sea in the East and sea in the West. The pieces connect the two seas and the two parts of this ancient landscape.” He added:
“The placement (of the pieces) is not geometrical, it’s topological; they can only be placed where they are to achieve the curvature of the land. If one walks through the pieces; he will understand not only the rhythm of himself in relationship to the landscape but also the rhythm of himself in relationship to the height and the length of the pieces.”
The new installation follows in the footsteps of Serra’s other works, which tend to revolve around the concepts of space, weight, mass and gravity, and are comprised of steel, his material of choice.
The artist is known for constructing enormous site-specific installations, including 7, a 24m (80-foot) high sculpture composed of seven steel sheets, which was erected at the MIA Park in 2011.
“East-West/West-East” is a departure from some of the other pieces that the QMA has recently commissioned, including a series of giant babies (Damien Hirst‘s “Miraculous journey” outside of the Sidra Medical and Research Center) and a statue of head-butting athletes (Adel Abdessemed’s “Coup de Tête”).
But it is no less dramatic. Some Qatar residents who stumbled upon the artwork before its official unveiling last week said the pieces left quite an impression.
To see “East-West/West-East” for yourself, photographer Sally Crane give these directions:
“Finding the site isn’t too difficult as the sculptures are very tall! You do need a 4×4 though as it’s pretty rough terrain. Leave the Dukhan Highway at the junction for Khawzan and turn to the left on the road following along the line of the highway until you reach an underpass.
At this point you will be going off road. Follow the track round and up the peninsula towards Film City. The sculptures are on your left hand side between a gap in the plateaus.”
More of Serra’s works will go on display later today, as the artist opens his first regional solo show at Al Riwaq Exhibition Hall near the Museum of Islamic Art.
Speaking at that opening, he explained to Doha News his process for deciding on where to install his new artwork:
“I am very grateful to the Father Emir, Sheikh Hamad, who walked around the area with me. He told me that when he was a little boy, his uncles would bring him out there – it was where the antelope gathered. He was very very nostalgic for that. So he recognized that the place had a specific aura. It moved me that he was moved by it.”
Serra’s art will also be exhibited at the QMA gallery at Katara Cultural Village. The displays will be up through July 6, 2014.
1) Obtain large, disused building materials
2) Stick them randomly in a field (preferably one belonging to a wealthy country)
3) Come up with a deep, ambiguous, catchy title–East/West, North/South, Happiness/Sadness, Diasporas/gatherings, etc. etc.
Considering how much the artist was paid to put up the hunks of metal, I really need to switch my profession to modern artist . . .
How much was he paid?
A lot. Serra doesn’t come cheap. ‘7’ in MIA park also cost a pretty penny, but at least its better than that Zidane monstrosity they eventually removed from the Corniche ;-).
Given the nature of his works, they are rarely bought and sold. But if you use the sale price of “Palms” (2 bits of steel) which sold in 2011 for $2.3m, you can get a feel for what he would have made on this commission.
QMA has previously said they don’t disclose prices – so we do not know how much the installation costs.
Mainly because the rest of us would spew our tea on our keyboards in outrage at how much it costs!
Seriously its measured in millions! and not single digit millions! Can’t find any figures but I remember a report a while ago that said something on the lines that experts believe the acquisitions budget of the QMA amounts to about USD1billion per year…
There’s the QMA acquisitions budget estimate of $1 billion (with a b) per year;
And there’s also the estimate for Qatari art collectors in total (public and private) at about $2.5 billion per year;
Who would know what the true figure is. But with a margin of error either way, it will be somewhere in the range many, many hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
Yeah, I agree. I am in the wrong profession. Maybe I should butcher some animals and throw it in a glass box and call it art.
Looks like a great place to shoot the next 2001: A Space Odyssey sequel.
Well done for everyone involved. Every now and then, Qatar surprises you with incredible events that are just so unexpected. Totally wowed!
And, to the cynics, well, for every piece of modern art or an installation ever, there were smart-asses commenting “my kid can do this” or “This is bullshit”. We get it, you don’t get it. Move away.
Oh look, more slabs of rusting steel from Richard Serra ;-).
Since you get it, can you please let us know what this “East-West/ West-East” represents? I can’t for the life of me, figure out the metaphysics at work in this piece of “Art”.
just smashed his head on the keyboard…. if you get it and the rest of the world don’t get it.. then why not put in a place where only people who get it get to see it and people who don’t get it are saved from having to bare with.. and yeah their money wasted on it.
You mean, like, in the desert? And also, exactly how much of your money did they spend on this installation?
“Put down the crack pipe”, please.
We get it, you don’t … That is such a sanctimonious comment. It does nothing to enlighten people. On the contrary it embeds the notion that modern art is nothing more than a great big con. A modern day emperors new clothes.
By adopting this supercilious attitude you hope to bully people into silence in case they are seen as dumb for not ‘getting it’ .
I have no problem with the structures. I do enjoy some installation art pieces for what they are and not what they were paid for. But there is also a lot of rubbish in the current art world being expounded and supported by people who are afraid to admit they don’t ‘get it’ in case it goes viral.
If you appreciate these pieces and understand them then please enlighten us poor clods who sit in the dark caves of the non arty world. Far better it would have been if you had tried to explain the pieces as you see them and draw us in rather than alienate us and then ridicule us for not understanding.
It’s a good idea and breaks up the boring monotony of the desert. However rather than paying this man ridicoulous amounts of millions of dollars why not get one of the students in Qatar to come up with such an idea? Cheap and gives the student exposure.
Why not do both? There’s room enough for established international artists, and promoting young, local talent.
Good question… why not do both?
Because foreigners do things better, I guess. Same arguments are getting an airing over at the DFI – why not try funding aspiring local/region talent to the same level as what is going to established artists.
Money isn’t going to make regional artists any better. Actual criticism will.
Because a local student wouldn’t have come up with this idea.
This is going to be a fun place to photograph, once the hoards of reporters have gone off.
yes world news outlets are swarming the place… move over MH 370
What I see in the pictures I like, so I imagine it would be more inspiring up close. I’m not able to look at art like this and understand it. All I know is that it makes me feel good to be in it’s presence.
Waste of time and money
How long until the first person crashes into one?
Place your bets now!
To the uninitiated it looks like a giant Land Cruiser slalom course, doesn’t it…
That was my very first thought when I read this article!
Thats why they expect only licensed drivers in the desert now.
Now it makes sense why the Deset Tour group is so worried about the Desert Safari’s.. Can you imagine the LC with their flashing lights trying to pass these obsticles on their desert treks..I can imagine the banshee’s will be weaving in and out of these racing…would the sound just be “Doink”..lol….the radiant heat these will put out in the summer will be crazy…toss an egg, see if it will cook before it hits the sand…
I have to disagree with the majority of the commentators here. I visit Zekreet often. The Brouq nature reserve is one of Qatar’s most beautiful regions. The strange limestone and gypsum formations such as the ‘mushroom rock’ give the place a haunting ambiance. The area is a favoured spot for stargazers during the Perseid and Geminid meteor showers and hosts some breath-taking sunsets. I find the minimalism, symmetry and towering size of the sculptures strangely compatible with the austerity and enigma of the empty desert landscape. I’m no art expert and don’t understand most modern art, but this piece seemed strangely appropriate to its surroundings.
You nailed it man!!! You have used terms like haunting, enigma, austerity, strangely compatible……… you can now easily join the art world as a modern art critic with a huge paycheck…. there is no stopping you 🙂 ….. no need to understand modern art.
sternness… melancholy… evocative… perplexity…. thank you microsoft thesaurus… or should i say lexicon
An eclectic mix of tradition and modernity… Wait, that’s what I would have named it, Tradition – Modernity / Modernity – Tradition 🙂
Mr R Chow, Mr A Qtr, Mr Laibach.. your calling is at Christies auctioning fine junk..I mean art…Mr Caliban its rubbish stuck in the desert, remove it now before someone smashes into it and it takes a life….
say what now..
That’s a convincing approximation of artist speak! Hilarious!!!
Every “RED-NECK” in the world needs you for their home appraiser..They have lots of this type of “art” in their front, back,side yards…
It is interesting that you mention “piece seemed strangely appropriate to its surroundings”
I know ” one man’s junk is another man’s treasure”..
Really curious what you have ingested to formulate the paragraph you wrote…
Really curious as to what makes your life so miserable that you have to resort to insults to respond to someone who was just voicing his opinion. Then again, internet tough-guys aren’t known for their clear reasoning or stellar mental health.
oh snap, if that aint the pot calling the kettle black…
Might make life a little more palatable sonny. http://zenpencils.com/comic/144-the-artist-troll-war-1-hatred-breeds-hatred/
Would like your thoughts on the information provided in the link below.
if you don’t mind..
doesn’t have to be in a wealthy country.. could be anywhere.. this sort of crap is now art
Well said…it is becoming the second biggest fraud perpetuated on man kind behind McDonalds claiming to be food…
“he will understand not only the rhythm of himself in relationship to the landscape but also the rhythm of himself….”
Oh yeah, I’m getting to grips with my rhythm right now. He sounds like he’s a rhythmic gripper, too.
Corten Steel Fallen in the Broug Nature Reserve.
Bill Rabinovitch “Simon Schama’s on The Power of Art – JMW Turner” 04-13-14