Inside the Doha sculpture gallery where visitors are encouraged to touch the art

Ayilah Chaudhary visits Siglinde Langholz’s confusing but very colourful exhibition

Inside the Doha sculpture gallery where visitors are encouraged to touch the art

Almost every sculpture gallery we’ve been to before Siglinde Langholz’s Living Meshes asked guests to refrain from touching the art. Living Meshes, however, invites guests to interact with Langholz’s experimental artwork, 3D printed objects and craft set-ups. We’re surprised (and excited) we can smell and leave traces of our interaction in the gallery.

Living Meshes is running at the Gallery at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) until December 8. The exhibition is free and open to the public, and is particularly inviting to those interested in becoming part of the artistic process by adding their own experiences, thoughts, feelings and ideas.

Langholz, an interdisciplinary artist from Puebla, Mexico, considers how activating relational encounters can impact the creation of art. Her art processes explore the intersections between biology, architecture and philosophy and how these generate new approaches to her creative research. She works with installations, textile work, sculptures and new media.

While the exhibit does challenge conventional viewpoints, it’s occasionally provocative and slightly confusing. The interactive set-ups have no clear directions on how the viewer can touch the art, nor do they seem to engage anyone in light of the confusion. The exhibit is more of a funky, colourful laboratory, surrounded by saturated hues, varied lighting and lots of tangibles. There’s a microscope, sample jars, textbooks on fermentation, liquid droppers and photos of what look like cells or DNA on the wall. One of the walls is also decorated with five yellow backpacks in a rather intriguing pattern.

Although we aren’t sure we are interacting with the art in the right way, we still draw, touch, smell and experience it. The exhibit intends to provoke the audience to look at the living world in Mexico and Qatar in different ways. The objective is to question whether art, science and philosophy could function collaboratively with an audience to create new works.

The question is ambitious and requires critical thinking and participation. Those interested in exploring these intersections (between biology, structure and philosophy) may differently experience Langholz’s art processes, in a colourful manner.

This exhibit isn’t for the lazy. You have to see the processes and be ready to do the mental work of making sense of everything around you and taking part in the interactions. Unlike most art galleries, Living Meshes does not allow its audience to just sit back and admire its abstract beauty.

The exhibit may be too abstract for some and we almost question the ambitious, conceptual exploration. If there’s one thing to take away, it’s the excitement of engaging almost all our senses in this intriguing display.
Free. Until Dec 8, 9am-5pm. The Gallery, VCUarts Qatar, Education City (4402 0555).

WHAT IS IT...
An exhibition where audience can interact with the art

WHY GO...
The exhibit engages all your senses and gives rise to several thought-provoking questions in your mind

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