QMA: No limits to be imposed on upcoming Damien Hirst exhibition

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Controversial British artist Damien Hirst will have “no limits” imposed on his choice of pieces when he exhibits his work in Doha next month, a senior manager at the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) has told Doha News.

Over the summer, the QMA chose to remove three ancient nude Greek statues from the Olympics Past and Present exhibition to comply with cultural sensitivities. 

But Miguel Blanco, the authority’s director of Strategic Cultural Relations, said no interference is expected this time. Responding to a question posed by Doha News at a press conference today, he said:

“The QMA is very well aware of the cultural sensitivities in Qatar, but we are not imposing any limits on the artist (Hirst) and the way he wants to display his work.”

Much of Hirst’s work is comprised of deliberately provocative pieces, including (often dissected) animals preserved in formaldehyde, such as a shark, a cow, a pig and a sheep; a platinum skull encrusted with diamonds; and a large model of a semi-dissected naked pregnant woman.

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The artist’s upcoming exhibit, “Relics,” is part of the Qatar-UK year of culture 2013, and has been billed as the largest collection of Hirst’s works ever assembled.

The exhibition is expected to contain “iconic” works, and though QMA has shared behind-the-scenes images showing the gallery being put together, it seems all of the exhibits are still being kept under wraps.

Changing status

Blanco also confirmed to Doha News that the QMA is undergoing a period of restructuring, as it becomes “a private entity for public good” instead of a government institution.

When asked how soon the change would be made, he said the time frame would be communicated shortly, and more information about the plans would be made public in the next few months.

QMA chairwoman Shaikha Al Mayassa Al Thani announced the change two weeks ago in an internal memo sent to all QMA staff following a scathing newspaper column published in Al Arab, which accused its expatriate management of corruption and nepotism.

Damien Hirst’s “Relics” will be on display at the QMA’s Al Riwaq exhibition space in the Museum of Islamic Art grounds from Oct. 10 until Jan. 22, 2014.

Do you plan to check it out? Thoughts?

Credit: Photo by Chaostrophy, second photo from the QMA’s Facebook page

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