Friday, 5 August 2011

Warehouse visit & the school

Finally managed to see the two warehouses in the industrial area on Wednesday. All items salvaged from Phases 1-3 are stored here, along with H/H 15, a heritage house that was carefully removed from the site for conservation in its entirety. Amazing to see the quantity of material that has been collected and stored. The next stage will be to make an inventory, to archive the collection, and to make the items accessible for use in the school.

School chairs in storage while the building is converted.

The school should be ready for early September. Close to the development, this is an old school building that is being converted into an arts centre for the project. It will have a gallery space, painting studios, digital editing facilities, a photography studio, an education room, research facilities, and more...

We are planning workshops involving local community groups and artists to take place in the first week of October- watch this space!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011


Eighteen Found Objects

Khalifa and I met with an archaeologist yesterday, who drew to our attention a number of issues, including the following: how we are recording and collecting information/objects; what criteria we are employing in making decisions about what to keep and what to discard; how the objects will be stored; how the resulting collection will be ordered and classified, and to what end.

We also discussed how an object changes once it has been removed from the environment in which it was found and placed in a collection, for the object loses its immediate functionality and becomes an artefact. This change is evident in the photographs that record the objects in situ, in which the location or context suggests some wider sense of narrative.

Chinese toy gun, found outside building 2785

A professor from Qatar University was taking samples of concrete from the buildings on the site this morning. He observed that the abandoned buildings provide the raw material for many different operations: one group strips the wire from the buildings, another takes the metal and aluminium from the window frames, yet another salvages the copper piping, while my team sifts through and collects the personal possessions left by the former residents. He saw himself as conducting an autopsy on the buildings, a post-mortem examination on the structural integrity of concrete that has been exposed to dripping pipes, drying laundry, and poorly installed air-conditioning units, all of which cause cracks and decay over time. It is interesting that the derelict buildings and refuse provide such fertile hunting ground.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Group 'found objects' collecting session

On Wednesday afternoon we organised a group collecting session involving about thirty employees from Msheireb Properties and Time Qatar. Three of Khalifa's photography students were also able to attend to collect objects and document the event, and Green Line filmed the event. The session seemed a huge success, and great enthusiasm was shown by all despite the heat! An impromptu road-side exhibition was held at the end to display the items, and a prize given to Team 5 for the most interesting objects/best sales-talk explaining what they had gathered and why they should win!

A huge thank-you to everyone involved, especially the team of labourers who helped to carry and pack-up all the found objects.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

New work

Collage based on the design of a Fourteenth Century tile from the Museum of Islamic art, Doha. The collage was made using a letter found in building 9273 (see below). The letter had been sent from Bangladesh, and the envelope was postmarked 18 Sept '01. One of the workers confirmed that the writing was Bengali.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

View from the Mercure Hotel

View of the construction site from the Mercure Hotel. The buildings on the far left mark the area for the Phase 4 development.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Maneklal machine

The metal-cutting machine from Fakland Jewellery store has been salvaged after a lot of work. The owner had asked one of the men to remove it for 200QR, but refused to pay the 500QR that was then quoted to carry out the job, so had left it. With this in mind we decided to take it ourselves for the project.

The cogs and internal machinery were taken out in one day. To get the main casing out involved breaking walls, knocking out door frames, sliding the casing along scaffolding poles and then tipping it down a flight of stairs. It must weigh at least a ton. A red oil can was found behind the machine, and seems an interesting object in its own right.

We also managed to salvage a telegraph pole. As one of the men pointed out, the wood is not from Qatar, and it would be very interesting to try and date it. It could be from any time after 1950 presumably, which is when the oldest buildings here date from.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Found photographs

These photographs were collected in Mumtaz Studios, building 7450, but are typical of what might be found in any of the apartments in Musheireb. The team pointed out the nationalities, or the countries of origin, of the people in the photos as we sifted through the pictures, saying Kerala, Bengali, Pakistan, Nepali, United Emirates.

The newspaper is Nepali. It had been used to cover up an image of a man carrying a load on his back through the mountains, hastily drawn onto a wall with a blue marker pen. Above the drawing was written Nepal Airlines. Presumably the person who had made the drawing had been trying to conjure up an image of his home country, Nepal.

Locks are to be found everywhere. This one has 'Made in China' written across the front, adding to the cultural mix.