Shaika Nasser Al Nassr, Project Manager (right) and Dr Mounia Chekhab-Abudaya, Lead Curator, during the press conference on the exhibition at MIA yesterday. Abdul Basit
DOHA: Never-before-seen objects related to Haj are displayed at the ‘Haj — The Journey Through Art’ exhibition which opened yesterday at the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA).
“The exhibition features 144 objects dating back from the 7th century until the present, majority of which have never been seen before by the public,” Shaika Nasser Al Nassr, Project Manager, told reporters at a press preview yesterday.
Ninety percent of the objects were from local institutions such as the MIA, the Orientalist Museum, Sheikh Faisal Museum as well as private collections, she said, adding “This is the first exhibition held in the Muslim world to explore the art revolving around the pilgrimage of Haj.”
The expo starts with a section on Makkah’s historical, geographical and economic aspects followed by the Haj journey from Qatar to Makkah featuring objects telling the story of the pilgrimage.
Historical and contemporary objects that are related to the rituals performed during Haj as well as gifts pilgrims bring back when their pilgrimage ends are also showcased in separate sections of the expo.
The expo also features an art installation in MIA’s atrium by contemporary artist Idris Khan and an outdoor photography exhibition featuring international photographers Peter Sanders (Britain), Reem Al Faisal (Saudi Arabia), Kayuzoshi Nomachi (Japan), Juliette Sawyers (Australia) and Khalifa Al Obaidly (Qatar).
“Exhibitions such as this have traditionally been the purview of European and North American museums. MIA is dedicated to shedding light on our past to inspire future generations, and we believe the power of art is essential to bringing the story of our cultures to life. We have every confidence that this exhibition will do just that” said Aisha Al Khater, Director of MIA.
The project is a collaborative effort between the MIA and the British Museum and curated by Dr Mounia Chekhab-Abudaya, MIA’s Curator of Manuscripts, and Cecile Bresc, former curator of coins.
“We are very proud of the work we have done to provide a truly unique vision of Haj and offer a local lens through which to view it. Using objects from our own collection and those of a number of generous local contributors, we bring to light the breath-taking artistry that has revolved around Haj since the beginnings of Islam and continues to this day. This is a perfect example of the continuation of Islamic artistic traditions,” said Chekhab-Abudaya.
The exhibition will be supported by a full educational programme to include art and calligraphy workshops, special tours and classroom materials for schools, lectures by a number of experts including Tim Mackintosh-Smith, and a panel discussion on the October 9 with contemporary artists involved in the exhibition: Ahmed Mater, Walid Siti and Khalifa Al Obaidly.
MIA has partnered with Doha Film Institute to present four Haj-related films that reflect the themes of the exhibition, to be shown at MIA’s auditorium. The series will start with Journey to Makkah, directed by Bruce Neibaur and narrated by Ben Kingsley showing on October 18-19. The documentary tells the story of Islamic scholar Ibn Battuta’s 18-month pilgrimage to Makkah. The Peninsula