1887

Abstract

Little research has been done to trace back and document the role of women artists from the Arabian Gulf countries in the local and international art scene. This could be justified due to the fact that women in the recent past were not accepted in public spheres. However, even after the emergence of modernism in most of the Gulf countries, the cultural sector remains somehow gendered where women artists have to self-censor their ideas and work in order to be accepted in the art scene. As a result, their work remain absent or sometimes represented in a way that succumbs to institutional and curatorial decisions. This takes away so much creativity of their work and also the opportunity of engaging the public around topics that reflect women's perspective on culture and heritage. There are many examples about work done by women artists from this region that ended up either derived from its original messages when curate or even shut down entirely when tried to reimagine the idea of women and traditions in the Gulf. This leads many women artists such as Shirin Neshat and Sophia Al Maria for example to turn their work to western art institutions where their work is sold and appreciated by wider audience. It's important to document the complexities, uniqueness and differences of the backgrounds of these women artists and their work in a time where the Gulf countries such as Qatar and Dubai for example, are investing so much in their cultural sectors as part of building their national vision. The history and current work by women artists from this region should not be lost within the process of development and that's what the art scene in Qatar is challenging. The rapid investment of Qatar on arts and culture has put the country under international spotlight especially when a Muslim conservative country hands its heritage sector to be overseen by a female figure, her highness Sheikha Al Mayassa, the sister of the current Emir and the daughter of the country's role model for women, Sheikha Mozah Almissned. Purchasing one of the most expensive paintings in the world entitled When will you Marry? by Paul Gauguin, and dedicating recent art spaces to solo exhibitions by women artists from the region, tells us so much about Al Mayassa's future vision in regards of the empowerment of women artists in Qatar. Yet, multiple communities in Qatar are resistant to such change, fearing that such art impose a threat that would demolish the Arab and Muslim identity from their culture. In my research, I will investigate the reason behind this gender gap, the lack of public discussions and studies on audience reception, and finally highlight what women's art in this region wants to communicate and offer to its multiple communities. As a case study, my paper will document and investigate the role of women artists as socio-political activists in the Arab and Islamic world, particularly in Qatar, and the representation of their work exhibited at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art.

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/content/papers/10.5339/qfarc.2016.SSHASP2487
2016-03-21
2019-09-16
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