The Laundromat exhibition by renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei opened at the Fire Station this Wednesday, following an invitation from Qatar Museums (QM) for the artist to bring the powerful commentary on the global refugee crisis to the Gulf region for the first time. The exhibition will be on show at the Garage Gallery of the Fire Station until 1 June, 2018.
Ai Weiwei said he was pleased to have the chance to bring his exhibition and his message to Doha.
My relationship with Qatar began when I first visited the country last year. I had the chance to tour the Fire Station and meet with the artists who had residencies there. It was a great experience to see the openness with which they practiced their craft and I am pleased to have the chance to bring Laundromat to this space and continue taking my message to people around the world.’
Khalifa Al Obaidly, Director of Qatar Museums’ Fire Station Artist in Residence Programme, said they too, were hugely honoured to present Laundromat at the Fire Station. He said that an exhibition such as this, which brings attention to an issue that has preoccupied a generation, is sure to be of interest to the wider community.
Laundromat brings together thousands of articles of clothing collected from a makeshift refugee camp in Idomeni – a small village in northern Greece and official border crossing to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The camp was shut down in May 2016 and the refugees that had been living there were evacuated, leaving their possessions behind. 2,046 items of clothing are displayed alongside personal mementos and photographs.
Laundromat also features the film ‘Idomeni’ (2016) which captures the everyday conditions of refugees up to the moment when the camp was evacuated, and 17,062 Photos Relating to Refugees 1.12-09.08.2016 – a wallpaper of images taken by Ai Weiwei on his iPhone during the filming of his documentary feature ‘Human Flow’.
Alongside Laundromat, two other projects by the artist is also on exhibit at the Fire Station, including Stacked Porcelain Vases as a Pillar (2017), representing six themes of the refugee condition — War, Ruins, Journey, Crossing the Sea, Refugee Camps, and Demonstrations, and Tyre (2016), a traditional symbol of safety turned on its head by being crafted from marble and representing the struggle faced by refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
For more information about the Laundromat exhibition, visit the QM website at qm.org.qa.