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ALFA

Jean-Michel Othoniel’s “ALFA” at the National Museum of Qatar

On March 27, Jean-Michel Othoniel‘s “ALFA” permanent installation by will be inaugurated at the National Museum of Qatar. Located in the lagoon between the museum and the Persian Gulf, the project covers the entire surface of the gigantic waterway.

“I created this installation in situ in keeping with the scale of the architecture and the landscape, in order to accentuate the importance of wild reeds, fragile elements of nature, as essential tools for cultural transmission,” said Othoniel.

It is “by far the biggest of all the monumental projects I have ever created, five times larger than my artwork permanently installed at Versailles in 2015,” said Othoniel. The installation, comprised of 114 fountain sculptures, is presented in dialogue with Jean Nouvel’s architecture of the museum.

“In designing this project, I discovered the richness of the art of writing in Arabic culture, and reinterpreted abstractly certain letters in the Arabic alphabet. I acquired great freedom in my ink drawings with the complicity of a professional calligrapher,” said Othoniel. “While I was creating nine groups of letters, he helped me to avoid forming actual words in order for the work to remain abstract, letters themselves being one of culture’s very foundations. During our conversations, I also learned that the traditional calligraphy tool is made from a simple, carved reed.”

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Kelly Wearstler

THE WINTER EXPERIENCE ISSUE
2023

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