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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Six face legal action for vandalising Qatar’s desert artwork


A new incident of vandalism has been reported to authorities and legal procedures are in process, Qatar Museums said.

Six individuals involved in vandalising the iconic ‘East West/West East’ sculpture are facing prosecution in Qatar, authorities said on Wednesday.

The vandals are accused of defacing one of the internationally-acclaimed artist Richard Serra’s largest public works in the Qatari desert, Qatar Museums (QM) announced on Instagram, noting that “legal proceedings are in process against the vandals”.

“Over the last 2 months, security have patrolled the area and  are reporting incidents to the police. Vandalism of all kinds is a crime punishable by law, and Qatar Museums emphasises our collective social responsibility to preserve public art,” QM added. 

Last year, the museum authorities launched an anti-vandalism campaign to encourage local residents to respect and preserve public works. However, incidents of vandalism still occur, with the desert sculpture regularly being defaced with graffiti and scratching.

Read also: Qatar intercepts sale to keep Islamic artefacts at Jerusalem museum

Restoration experts have since worked to restore the artwork.

East-West / West-East is a regular attraction for visitors and desert goers alike, with many choosing to camp in the surrounding area.

The four steal structures span over a kilometre, each one is fourteen metres in height. To guarantee perfect alignment, Serra examined the topography of the land with an aim to enhance the vast, desolate space in the heart of the desert.

Upon completion of the structures, Serra said: “This is the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done. It’s a piece that I’d really like to be seen.

In December, QM, responsible for most state museums and public works, said it was considering adding surveillance measures to help monitor and protect public art around the country.

“Cleaning the artworks in Zekreet so everyone in our community can enjoy. These are works of art not walls of graffiti. Preserving it from vandalism is our shared responsibility,” Sheikha Al-mayassa bint Hamad Al-Thani, head of the Qatar Museums Authority, said at the time.

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