Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar announced its biennial international design conference - Tasmeem Doha 2013 – ‘Hybrid Making’ which will be held at VCUQatar, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art and the Hamad Bin Khalifa University Student Center from 10 to 17 March, 2013 - to members of the media at a press conference on 27 February at VCUQatar.
The Conference will bring together leading scholars, designers and artists - including VCUarts faculty Corin Hewitt and Hope Ginsburg; conference co-chairs and VCUQatar faculty Thomas Modeen and Johan Granberg; and artists and designers Jeff Turko, Roger Kemp, Constantin Boym and Alex Schweder La, among others - to work with students from VCU’s Qatar and Richmond campuses. Unlike traditional conferences, this year’s Tasmeem Doha will be structured as a series of on-going activities, collaborative workshops, lab sessions and exhibitions. Acclaimed architect and winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize Rem Koolhaas, whose current projects include the new Qatar National Library, will deliver the Conference’s keynote address.
A major component of the Conference will be the exploration of the role art and design is playing in the transformation of Doha, Qatar from a small pearl fishing community to a preeminent center for the arts, popular tourism destination, and home to more than 1.8 million all in just a few decades. The Conference’s theme of “hybrid making” will explore hybridity within the acts of making, building and sustaining a contemporary society, engaging with art, design and other interventions that have been conceived, designed or fabricated in Qatar. Tasmeem Doha 2013 will include a series of exhibitions, presentations by artists, designers and architects who have realized projects in the country, and a series of workshops and labs for students led by VCU Richmond and Qatar professors and other artists. A primary goal of these working sessions is to design projects that explore and fulfill civic needs in Qatar and may eventually be adapted to serve the community. The five-day production phase involving the workshops and laboratories will take place from 10 to 14 March at VCUQatar and Mathaf; 15 March is a day of rest or preparation for the final phase. The two-day conference (dissemination) portion of Tasmeem Doha 2013 will take place at the Hamad Bin Khalifa Student Center in Education City on March 16 and 17.
A significant partner of Tasmeem Doha 2013 is Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art who will be hosting the 12 designer lead student laboratories. Visitors to Mathaf will be welcome to walk through the laboratories during the production phase or view the outcomes throughout the month of March. According to Michelle Dezember, Acting Director and Head of Education at Mathaf, “The collaborations between VCUQatar and Mathaf have been developing since before the museum opened in 2010. We are deeply committed to working together to develop the next generation of creative leaders in Qatar and provide innovative opportunities of learning through art and design. The Tasmeem Labs present precisely the kind of collaborative and experimental experiences that we strive for, and we are excited about the ways in which the museum provides a unique context for the artists, designers, faculty, student, and public to reflect on the processes of making.”
Johan Granberg, assistant professor of Interior Design at VCUQatar and co-chair of Tasmeem Doha 2013 says, “Despite this impressive and far-reaching transformation, very little is actually produced in Qatar. Goods, products, produce, architecture, art, artifacts and other manifestations of creativity are, for the most part, imported. Qatar buys rather than produces. This is a matter of national sustainability. As a consumer rather than maker, Qatar is heavily dependent on other parts of the world not only for its day-to-day existence, but also for its identity. We believe that creativity, and the act of making, are key components in forming and defining a nation’s culture and character. Therefore, this iteration of Tasmeem focuses on the creative process, the act of making.”
“Tasmeem Doha 2013: Hybrid Making breaks from a traditional conference format,” says Thomas Modeen, assistant professor of Design Studies at VCUQatar and co-chair of Tasmeem Doha 2013. “In this additional phase of collaboration, design and fabrication, we will have twelve faculty and practitioner workshops at VCUQatar, and thirteen student labs at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art bringing together local and international students, faculty, scholars and practitioners to provide their own interpretations of what the notion of hybridized making might entail.”
The Tasmeem Hybrid Making Laboratories at Mathaf are full-scale explorations done through the very act of making. For five days (March 10 to 14), groups made up of 20-25 students and faculty, led by invited international designers and artists, will design and create full-scale semi-permanent structures (walk-in sculptures), performances or other catalytic interventions. The outcomes of the labs will remain on view at Mathaf through March 31.
Lab leaders include interior and product design professor Kristin Bille; award winning wearable artist, eTextile innovator Lynne Bruning; sculpture and extended media professor Corin Hewitt; artists Josh Hoeks& Ryan Rasmussen; urban designers Kelly Hutzell and Rami El Samahy, architect Mary-Lou Arscott& interaction designer Mark Gross (Carnegie Mellon University); interior design professors Roger Kemp & Anthony Fryatt (RMIT University, Melbourne); interaction designer Ashley John Pigford; photographer and sculptor Steven Pippin; architects and lecturers Sara Shafiei and Ben Cowd; performance art/architecture artist Alex Schweder La; product design professor SigríðurSigurjónsdóttir and architect and lecturer Jeff Turko.
The Tasmeem Hybrid-Making Workshops (March 10 to 14) which take place at VCUQatar, are interdisciplinary, collaborative, charette-style workshops designed to produce viable end products by the conclusion of the workshop. Over five days, groups of 15 team members comprising faculty and professional artists and designers, will collaborate to synergistically create innovative end products. These products, or 'makings', may be in the form of academic papers, videos, full scale semi-permanent structures, performances or any other form determined by the workshop leaders and/or participants.
All of these activities are summarized and framed by the two-day symposium at the Hamad Bin Khalifa University’s Student Center on 16 and 17 March and will include a series of exhibitions and presentations by artists, designers and architects who have realized projects in the country, or have led workshops and labs during the active phase of Tasmeem Doha 2013. The exhibitions will run from March 1 to 31, in the various spaces of the Hamad Bin Khalifa University Student Center that surround the conference hall.
As a component of the conference, the Tasmeem Film Festival will feature regional and international films, which reflect and embody the conference themes of ‘Made in Qatar’ or ‘Hybrid-Making’ through the vehicle of the moving image. In addition, the festival will showcase student work produced in the conference workshops.