A new landmark is being erected on Qatar’s Corniche this morning: a five-meter (16-foot) high bronze statue depicting a famous scene of two fighting footballers.
The controversial sculpture, ”Coup de Tête” – or “Head Butt” in English – was created by Algerian artist Adel Abdessemed, and captures the moment when French football player Zinedine Zidane head-butted Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup.
Zidane, who was playing in his last match, was red-carded and sent off the field. Minutes later, Italy beat France, winning the tournament.
The statue, which was bought by the Qatar Museums Authority for an undisclosed sum, will be a permanently installation on the Corniche near Al Mourjan restaurant.
It journeyed here following a successful spell outside the Pompidou center in Paris, where it was a popular draw for tourists. Jean Paul Engelen, QMA’s director of Public Art, told Doha News that he expects the sculpture to be equally popular in Qatar:
“Yes, we expect a lot of people to want to take photos with it, and of it.
It’s an impressive piece. It’s a huge sculpture, and it’s done in the same style as Greek Mythological statues, but this glorifies human defects instead. It shows that although we sometimes treat footballers like gods, they’re not – they’re just human beings.”
Coup de Tête is being installed as part of the QMA’s public art program, which was also behind eL seed’s “calligraffiti” artwork on Salwa Road underpasses, Richard Serra‘s “7” at the Museum of Islamic Art Park, Sara Lucas’ Perceval in Aspire Park (a life-sized bronze sculpture of a Shire horse) and Subodh Gupta’s Gandhi’s Three Monkeys at Katara.
More public art displays are in the works.
Next week, QMA has confirmed that it will unveil a collection of 14 sculptures outside the under-construction Sidra Medical and Research Center.
The collection – “The Miraculous Journey,” by Damien Hirst – is literally being kept under wraps, as the works are currently concealed under big white balloons.
QMA said it wants the work to be “a surprise,” but Doha residents have been catching glimpses of the sculptures in transit, and tweeting about it:
Anyone know WHY there is a GIANT BRONZE BABY in transit, with 3 miles of traffic trailing behind?!?!?? Near Edu City #doha— Laura Finnerty (@LauraQatar)
Also coming to Doha: Fischli and Weiss’ Rock on Top of Another Rock.
Currently on display outside the Serpentine Gallery in London’s Hyde Park, the 5.5 meter-tall installation, which was purchased by the QMA for an undisclosed sum, will arrive in Qatar next year, but no location has been chosen for it yet, Engelen said.
Doha’s new Hamad International Airport will also be home to a “significant presence” of public art by both Qatari and international artists, QMA has said.
Credit: Top photos by Gazanfarulla Khan; photo of “Rock On Top Of Another Rock” by sczscz