Order from disorder

Ai Weiwei’s Laundromat at the Garage Gallery is an immense, artistic display Discuss this article

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This might be the coolest, most significant and most contemplative exhibition we’ve been to in a while.

Renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has set up his first exhibition in the Gulf, at the Fire Station’s Garage Gallery. It’s one of his most prominent works to date, highlighting the plight of refugees.

On until Friday June 1, the exhibition, entitled Laundromat, depicts Weiwei’s engagement with the global refugee crisis through an incredible and unusual display. It brings together thousands of articles of clothing collected from a makeshift refugee camp in Idomeni, a small village in northern Greece, which also formed the official border crossing the Republic of Macedonia. The camp was shut down in May 2016 and the refugees evacuated, many of them leaving their possessions behind.

Laundromat displays carefully hung clothes and meticulously arranged shoes, each of which have been washed, hung to dry, steamed, sorted and organised. A total of 2,046 items of clothing are displayed alongside personal mementos and photos.

The sheer scale of it sparks empathy and intense contemplation. You’ll be left pondering just how much we really take for granted. Laundromat also features in his film Idomeni (2016), which captures the everyday conditions of the refugees up to the moment the camp is evacuated.

The wallpaper entitled 17,062 Photos Relating to Refugees 1.12-09.08.2016 consists of several images taken by Weiwei on his iPhone while filming the documentary.

Idomeni falls on the Balkan route for refugees to reach Europe, but the Macedonian government closed the border leading to the accumulation of thousands of refugees at this camp. Weiwei took many photographs and captured as many of these painful moments as he could, and the end result is fascinating to see.

“The harsh reality can act as evidence and make us reflect on these conditions,” Weiwei says. “This is a situation many people refuse to see, or try to distort or ignore. Many wilfully believe this isn’t taking place. When you see so many children out of school – 263 million children worldwide – you can’t easily predict what our future holds.”

Weiwei intercepted trucks taking wet and soiled items to landfill and cleaned, washed and ironed the articles of clothing in his Berlin studio, exactly like a “laundromat” or launderette would.

Head over to the Fire Station now to check out this immersive exhibition, and ponder it in stages until Friday June 1. You’re going to need a while to see it all…
Free. Open Sat-Thu 8am-11pm; Fri 1pm-11pm. Until June 1. Garage Gallery, Fire Station, Civil Defense Roundabout (4422 4222).

Critic’s choice
Shereen D’Souza picks three more exhibitions to check out now

Emotions IAD Exhibition
This exhibition promises to bring your inner reflections, feelings and energy out into the open. We aren’t exactly sure how it’s going to do that, but that’s a good enough reason to go check it out.
Free. 9am-7pm. Until April 9. Art 29, W Doha Hotel & Residences, West Bay (4453 5000).

Mari Evans: Carl Pope
Mari Evans is one of the founders of the Black Arts Movement and she published her first work Where Is All the Music in 1968, followed by I Am a Black Woman in 1970. This exhibition features a commissioned text-based piece by artist Carl Pope related to Evans’ book of essays Clarity as Concept: A Poet’s Perspective.
Free. 9am-5pm. Until April 14. The Gallery, VCUarts Qatar, Education City, www.qatar.vcu.edu.

Powder and Damask
The exhibition (pictured above)features an interesting collection of a variety of edged weapons and firearms from the 17th to the mid-19th century from the personal collection of Qatari collector, Fadel Al Mansoori. His passion is rooted in a fascination with Damascus steel, and he also has a keen interest in conservation, highlighted through this show.
Free. Sun-Wed 10.30am-5.30pm; Fri 2pm-2pm; Sat noon-8pm. Until May 19. Museum of Islamic Art, Al Corniche (4422 4444).

By Time Out Doha staff
Time Out Doha,

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