Marhaba talks to Duncan Capp, the Fine Art Director at Gulf Warehousing Company (GWC) Logistics, about the logistics behind the new 32-foot tall ‘Small Lie’ art instalment at HIA.
Hamad International Airport (HIA) revealed a new art instalment ‘Small Lie’ by American artist KAWS on 7 March 2018. Delivered as part of Qatar Museums’ (QM) commitment to make art available to all beyond the confines of a gallery, ‘Small Lie’ is the latest addition to the airport’s fine art collection of more than 20 permanent pieces created by local and international artists. Reminicent of a wooden marionette, the sculpture is made from Afrormosia wood, weighing in at 15 tonnes and standing 32 ft tall.
How did GWC Logistics get involved in the ‘Small Lie’ project?
We first heard about this exciting project in the spring of last year. We were approached to assist with the installation due to our previous experience and local resources, we have a number of highly skilled art technicians who have installed similar artworks on multiple occasions in the past.
The sculpture comes in 11 pieces and was shipped in sea freight containers from Europe. The shipping was arranged by the artist’s representatives and once the shipment arrived at the port in Doha, it then became GWC’s responsibility.
I have been researching his artwork as a result of our involvement in this project. When we work on an art exhibition we research the artist to understand the installations requirements. Some installations can be quite complex whilst others are very straight forward. Our technical team always research the artist to understand the theory behind his artwork. This helps them find solutions to some of the installation requirements.
How long did it take to install the sculpture?
The installation of the artwork took five days, but there were a lot of preparatory work that took place before we unpacked the works. A 13 metre high electronic gantry system was fabricated to assist us handle each of the very large components. Our clients advised us exactly where we should position the feet and we began to secure the feet to the floor of the airport. From a health and safety point of view the airport authorities requested that we should secure the sculpture in some way, so we drilled into the airport floor and secured the sculpture accordingly. Once the position of the sculpture had been agreed, we installed both feet, then the legs, shortly followed by the body. Once we attached the hand to the right arm we were nearly there. One of the smaller member of our installation team had to climb inside the body of the sculpture to secure the right arm and the head. The last thing that was attached was the left arm which completed what I’m sure you will agree, is a spectacular art installation.
Our technical team had previously installed this artwork twice in the UK. Once in Yorkshire Sculpture Park and also at the Freize Art Fair in Regent’s Park. On both occasions the installation took place outside, meaning there was plenty of room to operate the standard equipment used for these large scale art installations. The different challenge with this one, was that it was to be carried out in a very confined space. When installing in an outside area you can use a crane, so there would be lots more versatility. This particular job was a little bit more tricky because of lack of space.
How many people from GWC Logistics team worked on the instalment?
Tell us more about the alterations that needed to be made to some parts of the airport to instal the sculpture.
Due to the size of each of the crates, it was not possible to enter the airport terminal in the usual way. HIA arranged for a substantial part of the façade to be removed in order to get the crates into the building and a scaffolding company were required to fabricate a scaffolding platform outside. Each individual crate was craned from one of GWC’s flatbed trucks to the temporary scaffold platform which was adjacent to the airport terminal. There was a special trolley fabricated to manoeuver each individual crate from the platform to a dedicated holding area inside the airport terminal, we also used this equipment to transfer from the holding area into the installation area.
Have you done other art instalments at HIA?
We’ve worked on similar projects at HIA. Most recently, we installed a large painting in the First Class lounge. But the Small Lie sculpture was a lot bigger and certainly more challenging.
Do you face any difficulties with customs or airport security?
Customs clearance is something we carry out on a daily basis. We have a fantastic relationship with Qatari customs and with their assistance it was as smooth a process as always. In regards to security, there was lots of planning involved, and with the help of the airport authorities and our colleagues at HIA’s engineering consultancy firm Parsons, everything ran smoothly as well.
Watch this space for some more art installations in the airport. The plan from QM’s and HIA’s point of view is for the airport to be an art gallery in itself.
Learn more on ‘Small Lie’ and KAWS, read ‘An Admirable Lie at Hamad International Airport’!
Author: Ola Diab
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